After a disappointing road stretch that lasted nearly a month and a half and took them through 10 states, the Towson Tigers returned home last night and put on one of their best performances of the season.
With forward Chuck Lightening scoring a career-high 34 points and guard Terrance Jacobs tying a career high with 29 points to go with a career-best 16 rebounds and six assists, the Tigers rolled to a 103-76 win over Mount St. Mary's before 1,531 at the Towson Center.
The win avenged the team's 91-77 loss to the Mountaineers in the consolation game of last month's Beltway Classic. It was also the first time this season the Tigers have won back-to-back games.
Mount St. Mary's, which had won two straight, is 0-10 this season when playing on an opponent's home court.
The Tigers responded from an early 10-point deficit to run what was essentially a layup line against the Mountaineers. Towson hit 54.8 percent from the field in the second half, with Lightening making 11 of his 14 shots after the break.
"I had been on a slump on the road, so it was just great to be back home," said Lightening, whose previous career high was 29 points against Syracuse last season. "It felt great in front of our home fans. We started off a little sluggish but got it together."
Towson led by 6-5 in the opening minutes, but Kevin Booth (27 points) and Anthony Carr combined for nine points during an 11-0 Mount St. Mary's run for a 16-6 lead.
A three-minute, 18-second scoring drought by the Tigers ended when William Griffin converted a three-point play, starting started an 21-6 run that put Towson up, 27-22. Mount St. Mary's closed to 27-25 after a three-pointer by Booth, but the Mountaineers could not handle the full-court pressure by the Tigers, who ended the half with a 17-4 run for a 44-29 halftime lead.
The Mountaineers shot 35.3 percent in the first half. Coach Jim Phelan left the bench after the opening minute after complaining of flu-like symptoms and saw the closing minutes of the half from the corner of the gym.
"I didn't see the good part -- when we were ahead," said Phelan, who missed a portion of a game because of sickness for just the first time in his 38-year career. "What I saw at the end of the first half was [Towson] getting too much penetration and Jacobs getting all the offensive rebounds."
Jacobs had 10 rebounds in the first half -- nine on the offensive end. In comparison, Mount St. Mary's had seven offensive rebounds and six defensive rebounds in the half (the Mountaineers were out-rebounded, 32-20, in the half).
Phelan returned to the bench for all of the second half -- and probably wished he had stayed downstairs. What he saw was the Lightening and Jacobs show, as the two combined on 40 of the team's 46 points in the second half that helped Towson to a 90-66 lead after a Jacobs layup (which followed his 13th offensive rebound) with 4:58 left.
Towson coach Terry Truax began clearing the bench, and the only challenge was whether the Tigers could break the century mark for the first time this season. That goal was accomplished with 17 seconds left when Michael Locksley (seven points in four minutes) hit a three-pointer.
"Our preparation for the zone defense was very good," Truax said. "We weren't patient early. Our best approach is not to have Terrance and Chuck taking perimeter shots, which happened early."
The Towson win follows a 93-54 blowout of Central Connecticut on Saturday. With the Tigers about to get into the thick of the East Coast Conference schedule, they're hoping the % 5/8 back-to-back big wins will turn the team around.
"Our road trip was kind of frustrating because some of the games we should not have lost," said Jacobs of the 3-7 road trip. "With the losses and I just sat down and said, 'What can I do to help us win?' I'm doing what I can.
"We've put two pretty good games together," Jacobs added. "I think we can put it together down the stretch. We feel we still have a chance at postseason play."
MOUNT ST. MARY'S (5-14) -- Stull 0-7 4-4 4, Hall 3-9 0-0 8, Carr 6-14 0-1 12, Booth 10-21 3-6 27, Galvin 5-11 0-0 12, John 0-1 0-0 0, Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Watson 2-7 1-3 5, Nanni 3-3 0-0 6, Meakin 0-1 2-2 2. Totals: 29-75 10-16 76.
TOWSON STATE (6-11) -- Lightening 14-24 6-10 34, Brown 3-3-3 9, James 1-4 0-0 2, Jacobs 11-21 7-11 29, Valentine 1-2 0-0 2, Alexander 4-14 0-0 8, Caldwell 0-1 0-0 0, Mason 2-3 0-0 4, Campbell 3-5 0-0 6, Griffin 0-2 2-2 2, Manning 0-1 0-0 0, Locksley 2-3 2-2 7. Totals: 41-86 20-28 103.
Halftime--Towson State, 44-29. 3-point goals--MSM 8-22 (Boot4-9, Hall 2-4, Galvin 2-8, Hill 0-1), Towson 1-4 (Locksley 1-1, Lightening 0-3). Rebounds--MSM 45 (Carr 12), Towson 56 (Jacobs 16. Assists--MSM 16 (Galvin 5), Towson 25 (James, Jacobs, Valentine 6). Total fouls--MSM 21, Towson 19. Fouled out--none. Technical fouls--none. A--1,531.