ATLANTA, Ga. - Junior guard/forward Rafriel Guthrie scored a career-high 23 points to lead the Tigers to a thrilling 90-82 overtime victory at Georgia State on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers (14-12, 9-4 CAA) have won four straight games and moved into sole possession of second place in the Colonial Athletic Association standings. Towson is 1/2 game ahead of James Madison in the CAA standings.
The win also gave Towson its 10th victory away from home, its most since the 1993-94 season.
Guthrie, who tallied six of his 23 points in overtime, shot 8-for-10 from the field and dished out a career-high six assists. Freshman guard Jerome Hairston tallied 17 points, his third straight game with 17 or more points.
Hairston hit five of Towson's season-high 13 three-point field goals. The Tigers shot 56.4 percent from the field and 61.9 percent from beyond the arc.
For the third time this season, five Tigers scored in double figures. Graduate student Bilal Dixon posted his third double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Marcus Damas chipped in 14 points and Mike Burwell contributed 12 points and two crucial assists in overtime.
In a game that featured 10 ties and 10 lead changes, Towson led 75-70 on a jumper by Guthrie with 1:11 left in regulation. Georgia State's Manny Atkins, who led all scorers with 26 points, responded by scoring the next five points for the Panthers and cutting Towson's lead to 76-75 with 11 seconds left.
After Burwell hit one of two from the line for the Tigers, Georgia State's Devonta White streaked the length of the court and was fouled with less than a second left in regulation. He hit both free throws and sent the game to overtime.
Towson scored the first five points of the extra session as Burwell's third three-pointer of the game put the Tigers up 82-77 with 2:35 remaining. Georgia State cut the deficit to 82-81 with four straight from the free throw line.
But, the Tigers forced turnovers on the next two Georgia State possessions and Burwell found Guthrie and Benimon for fastbreak lay-ups to put Towson ahead 87-81 with 49 seconds left. The Panthers did not get any closer than five points the rest of the game.
Towson improved to 3-1 in overtime games this season, while Georgia State fell to 0-2. The Panthers drop to 12-14 overall and 7-6 in the CAA.
The victory enabled the Tigers to avenge a 71-69 loss to the Panthers in the Towson Center last month.
In a battle between two of the top players in the conference, Towson junior Jerrelle Benimon fought off double and triple teams all day. He finished the game with seven points on 2-for-6 shooting, eight rebounds and four assists. Panther freshman R.J. Hunter shot just 3-for-16 from the field, but hit eight of 10 free throws to finish with 15 points.
The win guaranteed Towson one of the top 25 biggest year-to-year turnarounds in NCAA Division I history. The Tigers have already won 13 more games than they did last season.
The win enabled the Tigers to post its first-ever four-game winning streak against CAA teams.
The Tigers return to action on Tuesday night at James Madison. The game can be seen live on Comcast SportsNet.