With Bucknell's recent superiority on Towson State's home court, there were rumors that the Tigers' gym would soon be renamed the Bison Center. But Towson guard Devin Boyd changed that with one flick of the wrist.
Boyd's flick was a three-pointer at the buzzer that gave Towson an 85-84 win that erased any doubts the 1,236 fans may have had about who the home team was at the Towson Center. The Tigers (5-5) ended a four-game home losing streak to Bucknell (7-4).
"Coach [Terry] Truax had made us aware of the streak all week, and he told us he didn't want to lose here again," said Towson guard Terrance Jacobs, who scored a career-high 29 points before fouling out with five seconds left. "We just wanted to come out, play hard and let the people know just whose home court it really was."
For most of the night, it appeared to be Bucknell's, as the Bison -- which had had a 17-9 record at the Towson Center, including winning East Coast Conference titles there in 1987 and 1989 -- built a 13-point lead in the second half. But Bucknell's inability to hit free throws (it was six of 10 in the final 53 seconds) helped the Tigers back in the game.
Bucknell guard Bill Courtney (23 points) was fouled with five seconds left but made only the second of his two free throws (he was three of six from the line in the final two minutes). Boyd took the inbound pass after the second shot, dribbled to the top of the key and hit a three-pointer (his second in the final seven seconds) over Courtney's outstretched arms that hit the bottom of the net as the buzzer sounded and set off a wild victory celebration.
"I knew we had a chance to go all the way to the basket and maybe tie, but I just pulled up and shot," said Boyd, who scored 22 and had five assists. "It felt good when it left my hands."
The basket gave Towson its only lead of the game and salvaged what had been a lethargic evening for the Tigers. It was tough defense that set up easy baskets in the second half and allowed the Tigers to shoot 64.5 percent in the second half. Towson shot 37.9 percent in the first and trailed, 41-31, at the half.
"The defensive effort at times was good, but it was not consistent," Truax said. "We didn't make many good decisions in the first half. We just didn't come out and play with good effort."
Bucknell started strong in the second half and built its biggest lead, 56-43, when Keith Fenton (career-high 22 points) hit a jumper a little more than five minutes into the second half. But Towson's defense, sparked by reserve freshman Matt Campbell (six rebounds) and John James (three blocks), helped the team during a 13-1 run that pulled the Tigers within 57-56 with 11 minutes, 33 seconds left.
Courtney then got hot, scoring seven of Bucknell's next 13 and helping the Bison to a 70-63 lead. But the Tigers responded with seven straight points to tie the game with 4:40 left.
Towson tied the score at 74 with 2:41 left and seemed to have the momentum. But Fenton hit his fifth three-pointer of the game (tying a school record), giving Bucknell a 77-74 lead.
The Tigers went nearly two minutes without scoring and were able to stay in the game when Bucknell failed to convert back-to-back free throws.
Bucknell had an 83-79 lead after Fenton hit one of two free throws with 26 seconds left, but Boyd hit a three-pointer with seven seconds left that cut the margin to 83-82. Jacobs then fouled Courtney on the inbound play, setting up the wild finish.
"This is a big victory because it's just what we needed going into the conference," said Boyd. "But we didn't play well at all."
Truax agreed, but he liked the way the team fought back.
"I was really pleased with the way the team competed," Truax said. "But our team is more competitive than that. We have a lot to be grateful for."