TOWSON, Md. - A balanced team effort led the Tigers to a 58-45 win over Maryland Eastern-Shore on Tuesday evening in the Towson Center. 12 of the 13 Tigers who saw time in the game scored at least one point as the Tigers (8-2) won their fourth straight contest and improved to 5-0 at home for the first time under Coach Joe Mathews.
"I'm very pleased with the overall effort tonight," said Mathews. "We came out very focused. I thought we shared the ball and got different people involved."
Mathews added, "It was great to get the freshmen in and get them minutes. They work very hard, it's a great young group and they need this and to see what they can prove."
The two teams battled early as sophomore guard Tanisha McTiller hit her seventh three-pointer of the last four games to make it a 12-7 game with 14:44 to play in the first half. UMES (2-6) would score the next five points, to tie the game at 12-12 with 10:14 to play in the half. The two teams continued to battle as Chelsea Sanders hit a jumper at 4:37 to pull the Hawks within one point, at 18-17. Senior guard Sheree Ledbetter hit a pair of free throws at 3:13 to start a 14-0 run by the Tigers to close out the half. Ledbetter had six of the Tigers' points during that stretch that sent the home team into the break with a 32-17 lead.
The Tigers shot just 29.6% from the floor in the first 20 minutes but went 15-for-17 from the foul line during that time. UMEs shot 22.2% from the floor and made both of their free throws. Towson held a 27-14 lead on the boards in the first half.
Towson scored the first three points of the second half to extend their lead to 35-17 with 18:59 to play in the game. McTiller scored four straight points to give the Tigers a 43-19 lead with 15:44 to play. The two teams traded baskets over the next several minutes, with 11:26 remaining in the game freshman forward Nicole Hamilton-Carter hit a pair of free throws to make it a 51-28 game. The points were the first of Hamilton-Carter's career. With 6:42 remaining in the game, freshman guard Kaula Jacks hit the second of two shots from the foul line to put the Tigers up 57-33; it was the largest lead of the game for the Tigers. UMES closed the game on a 12-2 run to make it a 58-45 final score.
Towson shot 44.4% from the floor in the second half and finished the game shooting 35.6%. UMES shot 27.3% from the floor in the second 20 minutes and finished the game shooting 25% from the floor. Towson held a 46-36 advantage in the rebounding battle.
In addition to the balanced scoring attack, eight of the Tigers played at least 18 minutes in the game. McTiller led the Tigers as she had 14 points and four rebounds while senior guard Krystal Parnell chipped in with 11 points and four assists. Redshirt sophomore forward Nyree Williams led the charge on the boards with 10 while adding five points.
The game marked the end of the career of Tiger senior guard Meredith Kennedy, who started the game nursing an injured knee. The teams traded opening buckets to begin the game, with Kennedy scoring the final points of her career. Kennedy was then removed from the game for the final time.
"It meant a lot to me. It really means so much," said Kennedy. "For me personally, it was closure. I didn't want my last time on the court to be when I was carried off. I was really nervous I was going to miss that layup. Just being on the court with my teammates one last time, I'm so proud of them. "
Jessica Long led UMES with 11 points and five steals in the game while Porsha Barr added nine points and seven rebounds.
Towson is now off for nine-days for finals and will return to action on Thursday, Dec. 22 when it travels to Delaware State for a 6 p.m. game.
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