Chuck Lightening fashioned an entirely inappropriate ending to Towson State's 99-97 victory over Lehigh at the Towson Center last night.
Lightening's 19-footer from the right wing with five seconds left provided the Tigers (1-2) with their first win of the season. A dunk or post-up move would have been more fitting on a night when feast-or-famine pressure defense resulted in high shooting percentages and abundant turnovers for both teams.
Full-court pressure helped Towson State to 61.1 percent shooting in the second half. Lehigh (2-2) made 67.9 percent (38-56) of its field-goal attempts, but the Engineers turned it over 26 times. Coach Terry Truax enjoyed the fact that that Towson State avoided its first 0-3 start since 1978, but he wasn't pleased with the layups the Tigers allowed, nor the leads that they squandered.
"Defensively, we just gave up too many easy baskets," Truax said. "That's not our way of playing. We also didn't take care of the lead, and I can't be happy with that."
Lightening's 12-footer from the right side put the Tigers ahead, 17-15, and they took a 43-40 lead into intermission. Lehigh had advantages of 46-45 and 52-49 early in the second half, but a 13-2 Towson State run made it 69-58 with 11 minutes, 35 seconds remaining, and the Tigers' bulge was 97-88 after freshman guard Terrance Alexander made two free throws with 2:34 remaining.
Lehigh scored the next nine points, however, as Towson State didn't score again until Lightening's clutch jumper. It was a stretch when the Tigers could have used senior Devin Boyd, restricted to radio commentary because of an elbow fracture that will keep him inactive until at least the second week of January. Boyd took 89 games of experience with him when he was injured in the opener at Colorado.
"Without Devin, it's definitely a change for all of us," said Lightening, who took his game-winner over 6-foot-5 James Hipps. "That wasn't a designed play. I didn't know how much time was left, and when I heard the crowd getting louder, I knew it was getting close."
Lightening's jumper was the second-longest field goal of the night, as Krizansky had the only three-pointer. That three with 8:40 remaining was the Engineers' first basket outside the paint, as Lehigh had an easy time of it once past the Tigers' pressure on the perimeter.
Krizansky, a bullish forward who is one of the premier players in the Patriot League, finished with 30 points and five rebounds. Dozie Mbonu powered his way inside for 29 points and six rebounds, as those two were a combined 23-for-28 from the field.
Towson State's senior combination was nearly as productive, as Lightening finished with 25 from his forward spot and Jacobs, the guard out of Southern High, went inside for most of his 18.
Alexander, the area Player of the Year for Dunbar High in 1990-91, had 17 points, and sophomores John James and Matt Campbell had career highs of 12 and 11, respectively. Those three, junior Larry Brown and Jacobs were on the floor during a second-half stretch when the Tigers were expanding their lead.
It was the second straight loss at an East Coast Conference gym for Lehigh, whose previous visit to the Towson Center was the 1990 title game that they lost to the Tigers. The Engineers moved last year to the Patriot League, which they are favored to win this season.
LEHIGH (97) -- Hipps 6-11 4-4 16, Krizansky 13-16 3-4 30, Mbonu 10-12 9-13 29, Hudock 0-2 0-0 0, Penn 7-11 2-2 16, Berliner 1-1 2-2 4, Falke 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 38-56 20-25 97.
TOWSON STATE (99) -- Lightening 11-20 3-4 25, Brown 1-4 2-2 4, James 5-8 2-3 12, Alexander 6-14 5-6 17, Jacobs 8-16 2-2 18, Caldwell 0-0 2-2 2, Mason 0-0 2-2 2, Valentine 3-3 0-0 6, Campbell 4-6 3-5 11, Griffin 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 39-73 21-26 99.
Halftime--Towson State 43-40. Three-point goals--LU 1-6 (Krizansky 1-1, Hudock 0-2, Penn 0-2, Yaniga 0-1); TS 0-5 (Lightening 0-2, Jacobs 0-3). Rebounds--LU 26 (Mbonu 6); TS 32 (Lightening 6). Assists--LU 21 (Hudock 6); TS 14 (Lightening 5). Total fouls--LU 17; TS 25. Fouled out--Brown. A--1,531.