Streaking in the Right Direction
Courtesy: Mat Schlissel, TowsonTigers.com  
Release: 01/06/2013
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Towson opened its Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) season with wins over UNC Wilmington (79-74) and Drexel (69-66). The Tigers are now 2-0 in the CAA for the first time ever and have won three straight road games for the first time since 1993.

It's nice to finally talk about streaks in the right direction. On January 9 against William & Mary at the Towson Center, the Tigers will go for their fourth straight win. If they extend their streak, it will be the first time they've won four or more games in a row since the 2000-01 season when they won five straight.

At 7-8 and 2-0 in the CAA, it's a little too early to say the program has turned the corner, but they are definitely headed in the right direction. A win over Drexel, even if the Dragons have had a disappointing 5-9 start, is a tremendous step for Pat Skerry's program. Towson had not won at Drexel since Feb. 23, 2002 and were beaten in seven straight overall before Saturday's win.

Towson's victory also halted Drexel's 17-game regular season CAA winning streak.

But enough of the streaks, how did Skerry find a way to beat the Preseason CAA favorite on the road
in one year?

Towson lost the first of its two games with Drexel last season, 60-27, at the DAC and were hammered on the boards, 39-27. In the second game on Feb. 4, Towson fell 65-57, but out-rebounded the Dragons, 34-30. This time, the teams were even in paint points. Even though Towson lost the game by eight, they displayed the formula needed to compete with physical teams like Drexel. They just needed more physical players.

Enter junior Jerrelle Benimon (6-8, 250), grad student Bilal Dixon (6-9, 245), junior guard Mike Burwell (6-5, 210) and freshman point guard Jerome Hairston (6-3, 190). Towson has  out-rebounded their opponents by over five per game and once again on Saturday, the team out-rebounded the Dragons, who had come into the game out-rebounding their opponents by 5.5 per game.

"Drexel is a terrific team," said Skerry after the game on the Towson Sports Network. "We didn't finish the way we'd like to. We had to guard and rebound and we did. If we didn't turn it over, it might not have been as close. We know it was going to be a physical game. We had to grind it out."

Towson controlled the paint, holding a 39-33 rebounding edge and a 26-10 advantage in paint points.

Benimon continued his strong player with 18 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in 38 minutes. Junior Marcus Damas scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while playing tight defense on Drexel's leading scorer Damion Lee, who wound up with 14 points but shot just 3-of-11 from the field.

Towson is by no means a finished product. For the second straight game, the Tigers nearly gave up a large lead in the second half. Against UNC Wilmington, they went from shooting 50 percent in the first half to just 32.3 percent in the second half. When they faced Drexel, the turnover bug caught up with them as they struggled against the full-court pressure. Towson wound up with 20 turnovers - 14 in the second half.

Fatigue could be an issue as well since the Tigers started the season with 13 of their first 15 games on the road. That changes on Wednesday night when they take on William & Mary at the Towson Center at 7 p.m.

There is one thing you can surmise about this Towson team after the first 16 games. The Tigers aren't going to get pushed around anymore.

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