Delaware's inside game drops Towson, 76-69

January 10, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

Which does Delaware enjoy more: its membership in the North Atlantic Conference or its non-conference schedule filled with foes from Maryland?

The Blue Hens begin their second season in the NAC this week, and it won't be a surprise if they again go unbeaten and play in the NCAA tournament. They'll enter conference play with a six-game win streak, and the last four have come against Maryland colleges, the most recent being last night's 76-69 victory over Towson State before 1,325 at the Towson Center.

In the last 12 days, the Blue Hens (9-3) have beaten Mount St. Mary's, Navy and UMBC. It was Delaware's ninth straight victory over a Maryland college since it lost two years ago to the Tigers (3-6) at the Towson Center, where they had a 3-14 record tTC heading into last night. The majority of those games came when the Blue Hens and Tigers were rivals in the East Coast Conference, but Delaware went to the NEC two years ago, and Towson begins its first season in the Big South Conference tomorrow (7:30 p.m.) against UNC-Asheville.

Scooter Alexander, the Tigers' sophomore guard out of Dunbar High, had a game-high 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting and three assists. But Towson State couldn't stop Delaware's inside game, and Blue Hens sophomore Brian Pearl held a flu-weakened Devin Boyd to 10.

Spencer Dunkley, the Blue Hens' 6-foot-11 senior center, was limited to two baskets, but he hit 15 of 17 free throws in scoring 19 points and collected 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. Pearl's 14 points were tarnished by eight turnovers, but he shadowed Boyd, Towson State's leading scorer, into 2-of-10 shooting.

The smaller Tigers stayed alive thanks to a trapping defense, but they committed too many mental errors and allowed Delaware, which enjoyed a 36-28 rebound advantage, too many second chances. The Tigers forced 14 turnovers in the first half, but in the second, Delaware managed 11 offensive rebounds.

The Blue Hens went into the final three minutes with a 71-66 lead, but junior center John James, who had 11 points and six rebounds, converted a three-point play and freshman Ralph Blalock had a chance to tie it when he went to the free-throw line with 55 seconds left. He missed both attempts, and Delaware made five of six free throws in the final 39 seconds.

"Defensive breakdowns concern me more than a freshman missing a shot," Towson State coach Terry Truax said. "I hate to use the word feeble. . . we think we're playing with effort and intelligence, but we're not. When a guy flat-out allows his man to beat him to the ball, we've got some work to do."

Truax was particularly upset with a breakdown that came with 9:03 left. With Delaware up 53-51 and nearing the end of the 45-second clock, Anthony Wright got a step ahead of Matt Campbell for two of his 13 points.

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