Boyd's 37 points lift Towson State past Liberty

February 12, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- The Big South might be a minor conference in Division I basketball, but it has a major-league backcourt in Devin Boyd and Scooter Alexander.

The Baltimoreans quieted Liberty last night with an 86-81 defeat of the Flames that put Towson State in control of the Big South Conference. Boyd, a senior out of Walbrook High, became the Tigers' all-time leading scorer with 37 points -- 26 in the first half -- and Alexander, a sophomore from Dunbar, had 22.

Towson State (13-8, 9-2) came here with a half-game lead over preseason favorite Liberty (14-9, 8-4). The Flames, who play at UMBC tomorrow and at the Towson Center on Monday, dropped to third place.

After a three-year run atop the since-disbanded East Coast Conference, Towson State is in excellent position to claim the No. 1 seed in its first Big South tournament in North Charleston, S.C., March 3-6. The conference has been chasing the Tigers all season, and Boyd is getting a different kind of pressure from his partner.

"I'm only going to get two years to enjoy it," Boyd said after pushing his career total to 1,845 points. "Scooter's on pace to get me."

Boyd passed the 1,832 Pat McKinley scored from 1973-77, but he knows that Alexander has 828 points in 51 games, and that his production will likely go up next season, when Boyd is gone.

The thought of breaking up the duo pleased Liberty coach Jeff Meyer.

"Our backcourt has not seen a combination like that all year," said Meyer, whose team opened against Clemson of the Atlantic Coast Conference. "Boyd has quickness and strength, and Alexander complements him very well."

For the last 11 minutes of the first half, Boyd was unstoppable. The Tigers were down 18-12 when he scored every point during a 16-2 run that gave Towson State a lead it never relinquished. He made five shots in a row, and was fouled on the sixth, a three-point attempt. Boyd made all three free throws, and he finished 17-for-21 at the line.

Eric Pothoven was hanging all over Boyd when he muscled in a foul-line jumper with four seconds left in the half, and the free throw completed the three-point play that gave Boyd the scoring record and Towson State a 44-34 lead.

Meyer had Chris Toomer deny Boyd the ball in the second half, and he didn't have a point in the first 14 minutes. Eight free throws in the final 1:43 got Boyd within one of his career high and two of the conference scoring record of 39 held by another West Baltimore product, Charleston Southern's Darnell Sneed (Douglass). The attention didn't matter, as many of Alexander's 16 points in the second half came at crucial times. He began a decisive 11-0 run that stretched the Towson State lead from 58-55 to 69-55 with 5:56 left.

Towson State had its customary problems protecting a lead, and Liberty came back to within 82-79 with 35 seconds left. Alexander made just one of two free throws, but he stripped Cordell Robinson at midcourt and fed Boyd, whose two free throws with 18 seconds left got the spread back up to six points.

"You can't stop both of us at the same time," Alexander said. "The only way we're going to be successful is if at least one of us is shooting well, and we were both on tonight."

Boyd upped his average to 22.2 and Alexander's improved to 18.3, but they didn't do it alone. Senior forward Larry Brown had 12 points, hitting all six of his free throws, and he and center John James, who had six blocked shots, slowed the conference's premier inside combination.

Liberty senior forward Parish Hickman, a transfer from Michigan State, had 15 rebounds, but needed 25 shots to get 22 points. Julius Nwosu, a senior center from Nigeria, had 20 points.

Big South standings

..... ...... Conf. ..... Overall

=1 ....... ....... W ... L ... W ... L ... Pct.

Towson St. ....... 9 ... 2 .. 13 ... 8 .. .619

Campbell ......... 8 ... 3 .. 10 .. 11 .. .476

Liberty .......... 8 ... 4 .. 14 ... 9 .. .609

Coast. Carolina... 6 ... 4 .. 13 ... 9 .. .591

Radford ... ...... 6 ... 5 .. 12 .. 12 .. .500

Winthrop ......... 5 ... 5 .. 11 ... 9 .. .550

UMBC ...... ...... 4 ... 7 ... 7 .. 13 .. .350

Charleston So. ... 2 .. 10 ... 5 .. 16 .. .238

N.C.-Asheville ... 2 .. 10 ... 4 .. 15 .. .211

z-N.C.-Greens. ... 0 ... 0 ... 6 .. 15 .. .286

z-ineligible for postseason play

Yesterday's results

Towson State 86, Liberty 81

Campbell 81, Charleston Southern 64

Coast. Carolina 93, Belmont Abbey 62

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