When Towson State lost at Bucknell Jan. 20, the Tigers' record dipped to 4-11 and a fourth straight winning season for coach Terry Truax and company was in jeopardy.
The Tigers have since pulled a not-so-surprising turnaround, and they can match the longest win streak in their Division I history tomorrow (4:30 p.m.) at the Towson Center against UMBC. Towson State won its seventh straight Tuesday night at Rider, wasting a comfortable second-half lead before resuming command in overtime.
The Tigers had an eight-game run stopped last year on their home court by another local rival, Loyola, and they'll be ready for the Retrievers after losing to them in the semifinals of the Beltway Classic Dec. 6. UMBC lost at Hofstra last night, 91-80, falling out of a first-place tie with Towson in the East Coast Conference.
The Retrievers are only 7-15 overall, but it was at this stage a year ago they began to discard the remnants of a 2-21 record and take some momentum into their first stab at Division I postseason play. UMBC is in a brutal stretch -- it won at Rider last Saturday, lost at Hofstra last night and is at Towson State tomorrow, then gets a "home" game Monday against Penn State at the Arena (7:35 p.m.).
* POSTSEASON RESERVATIONS: In addition to the Maryland women, the Salisbury State men can plan to play in an NCAA tournament.
Ranked No. 2 in this week's Division III poll, the Sea Gulls began a regular-season-ending five-game homestand Wednesday night against Wesley with a 116-81 victory. After that, they will serve as hosts for the Eastern States Athletic Conference tournament. If their win streak is up to 24 games by then, Salisbury State would also be the site of the Atlantic Regional the first weekend in March.
If all goes as planned, that means the Sea Gulls' next road game would come in the NCAA quarterfinals March 14.
When Salisbury State's Andre Foreman became the state's all-time leading scorer last Saturday at Shenandoah, he jumped from No. 3 to No. 1. Everyone knows where David Robinson is, but did you know that Jack Sullivan, a star at Mount St. Mary's in the 1950s, coaches the women at Catholic University?
* CAREER ACHIEVEMENT: Washington will play its final home game of the season tomorrow (7:30 p.m.) against Ursinus, and before the game the Shoremen will honor coach Tom Finnegan. The 22-year veteran became the all-time leader in coaching wins in Chestertown last month, and earned victory No. 291 Wednesday night against Haverford.
Finnegan passed the late J. Thomas Kibler, who in 24 seasons between 1913 to 1939 compiled a 277-111 mark. Finnegan took the Shoremen to the NCAAs four times in the last nine years, and many players from those teams will be back Saturday for an alumni game.
* MOVING UP: Towson State, ranked No. 10 in the nation in women's gymnastics, improved its stock last Saturday, when it won the New Hampshire Invitational with a team total of 189.00 points that was the third-best in the program's history. Junior Gabby Linarducci's 38.20 all-around score was just .175 off of Wendy Weaver's school record, and Weaver bettered her own mark in the vault with a 9.75.
The Tigers will be host to the seventh annual TSU Invitational Sunday (1 p.m.) at the Towson Center, with Maryland, Temple, Longwood, Cortland State and the Air Force Academy coming in. Towson State has won the last six.
* MOUNTING A CHALLENGE: Second in 1991, Mount St. Mary's could knock off defending champion and host Fairleigh Dickinson in the Northeast Conference indoor track and field meet tomorrow and Sunday.
Rob Pendergist won three events at the meet a year ago, and he's no longer the lone decathlete in Emmitsburg. The freshman class includes Jim Stevenson, a native of Sheffield, England, who was ranked No. 7 among the world's junior decathletes last year, and New Yorker Eddison Toby.
* RECORD-SETTERS: Jerry Roney, The Baltimore Sun Athlete of the Year for Woodlawn High in 1987-88, continues to stand out for James Madison. Roney won the 55-meter hurdles at the USAir Invitational in Johnson City, Tenn., Jan. 25, and his time of 7.21 seconds is believed to be the fastest this winter among the nation's collegians.
Counting outdoors, Roney will be going to his fifth straight NCAA championship meet March 13-14 in Indianapolis. He might not be the only James Madison competitor; Matt Holthaus recently set a school record in the 1,000. He was a multiple state champ and All-Metro while at Wilde Lake High.