Liberty stops Boyd, but not Towson State, 75-69

February 16, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

Liberty achieved its goal, but lost its game with Towson State last night.

The Flames, burned by Devin Boyd for 37 points last Thursday, calmed down Towson State's all-time scoring leader, but the strategy wasn't enough to preserve the team's slim chances to win the Big South Conference regular-season title.

Boyd scored only 13, but the Tigers officially eliminated the preseason favorite from championship contention with a 75-69 victory at the Towson Center last night.

Towson (15-8, 11-2) now only has second-place Campbell to contend with in the fight for the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

Sophomore Scooter Alexander compensated with 23 points for the Tigers, who asserted themselves with 10 straight points midway in the second half and took a 54-47 lead.

Boyd was the Flames' big target as a number of gimmick defenses were designed to keep him out of the offensive flow.

"They put a clamp on me," said Boyd, last week's Big South Player of the Week. "It was a box-and-one and so this game was nothing like the first one [an 86-81 Towson victory at Lynchburg, Va.]. Down there we just ran and pushed the ball. It was wide open."

Liberty (14-11, 8-6) fell 3 1/2 games behind the Tigers with only two to play. The loss was the fourth in a row for the Flames; Towson has won six straight.

The Tigers shot 37.9 percent in the first half, yet forged into a 30-30 tie at the break by scoring 10 of the final 12 points.

Most of the charge was the work of Alexander, who packed seven of his team-leading 11 points into the final six minutes, rallying the Tigers from an eight-point deficit.

Towson State coach Terry Truax started all his seniors in the team's final home game, putting William Griffin and Craig Valentine into the lineup in place of John James and Alexander.

That proved no factor as the Tigers and Liberty played to an 8-8 standoff before James and Alexander entered the game.

But as the Tigers fought with their accuracy, Liberty gradually built an advantage during a period when both sides substituted liberally.

A jumper by Matthew Hildebrand pushed the Flames ahead, 28-20, before two fast-break baskets by Alexander, a tap-in by James and a three-pointer by Boyd got the Tigers back into the flow.

Liberty was in desperate need of a victory to retain its slim regular-season title hopes after losing to Towson, 86-81, at home last Thursday and at UMBC Saturday night, 90-85.

But the Tigers out-rebounded the top board team in the conference, 23-17, in the first half with James and Larry Brown grabbing six apiece.

Towson already was assured of its fifth straight winning season and was trying to put away Campbell, its most serious challenger, in the league race.

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