| @Towson_MBB: Winning Ugly is Great
Courtesy: Mat Schlissel, TowsonTigers.com  
Release: 02/17/2013

Towson and Hofstra played a basketball game on Saturday that definitely would not have been an "instant classic" had it been televised.

Towson led 20-11 with 7:06 left to go in the first half. Easy, right? Hofstra had just six wins overall this year and three in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). But strange things happen on the road in conference play. Look what Georgia State did on Saturday, crushing George Mason on the road in Fairfax, 78-60.

Then later that night, conference-leading Northeastern went to UNC Wilmington and lost 73-67 to a team that had four conference wins coming into that game.

So after grad student Bilal Dixon made a long jumper to put the Tigers up by nine, they went on to miss eight straight shots and scored just one point the rest of the half. Towson led at the half, 21-19, and shot just 39 percent. But Hofstra was shooting just 29.6 percent from the field, and the Tigers out-rebounded them in the first frame 23-13. When the offense hasn't been effective this season, the defense and rebounding has usually been there to bail Towson out.

In the second half, the Tigers failed to score a field goal until the 17:51 mark when junior Rafriel Guthrie hit a jumper to cut the Hofstra lead to 24-23. Then Hofstra scored five straight points to increase its lead to 29-23 with 16:59 left. Until Dixon made a jumper with 16:33 left in the game, Towson had just one basket in about 10:30 of action.

Turnovers hampered the team as the Tigers committed four in the first 3:38 of the second half. That's after turning it over nine times in the first half. Coach Pat Skerry decided to go with sophomore Kris Walden at the point over the next 17 minutes. Towson did not have a turnover from the 17:22 mark until junior Jerrelle Benimon committed one with 9:38 in the game. At that point (no pun intended), Towson took a 40-32 lead and control of the game.

The Tigers still ended up with 20 turnovers. They are still an issue for this team with the Tigers ranking last
in the CAA in turnover margin and second-to-last in assist-to-turnover ratio (10.3 apg, to 14.7 tpg). Unlike last year though, they've overcome the turnover issue thanks to leading the CAA in rebounding margin (+6.6), blocked shots per game (5.4), and field goal percentage defense (39 percent).

While the team struggled against Hofstra with turnovers and a major scoring drought, Towson was holding Hofstra's leading scorer, Taran Buie, scoreless on 0-for-11 shooting. Buie, a Penn State transfer, came into the game averaging 13.5 points per game. Junior guard Mike Burwell did the job on Buie, using his size to frustrate the sophomore.

Towson has now won 15 games for the first time since the 2006-07 season when current San Antonio Spurs guard Gary Neal was leading the Tigers. They have the week off until they meet Drexel next Saturday at home in the second-to-last-ever game at the Towson Center. The turnaround Tigers have just three games left in the season to attempt to set a few more milestones before it's all said and done.

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