Winthrop knocks Towson out of tournament, 83-79 Tigers fall to 8th seed to end postseason roll

March 05, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Towson State's first season in the Big South Conference and Devin Boyd's college career ended with a thud last night.

The Tigers came to the conference tournament with the regular-season title, No. 1 seed and nine straight victories, but they couldn't survive the first round. Towson State fell behind by 19 points in the first half and had a late rally and its hope of returning to the NCAA tournament snuffed by Winthrop, 83-79, at the North Charleston Coliseum.

It was the first time in the eight-year history of the tournament that the No. 8 seed beat No. 1 and the Tigers' first loss in a conference tournament game in four years. They had won three straight East Coast Conference titles and two NCAA berths before moving to the Big South this season.

"I never expected it to end tonight," said Boyd, whose four seasons at Towson State were the winningest in the Tigers' 12-year Division I history. "It's my last college game, and it hurts. I thought we'd win three games down here and go back to the NCAAs, but we dug ourselves a hole and never got it. Winthrop really took it to us."

The Eagles of Rock Hill, S.C., lost their last six regular-season games and had difficulty getting past UNC-Asheville in Wednesday night's preliminary-round game, but their solid play wasn't a big surprise.

The Eagles (13-15) led Virginia at halftime this season and had a 12-point win over Towson State (18-9) on Jan. 30. Many were puzzled by Winthrop's late-season woes, Towson State coach Terry Truax included.

"Winthrop is one of only two teams here that had beat us," Truax said. "Our kids weren't afraid, but they were too concerned with Winthrop. It looked like we were playing to keep from losing, and not to win. We didn't play like the No. 1 team."

Winthrop made 62.1 percent of its field-goal attempts in the first half, then spread the floor in the second for senior forward Mark Hailey, who had 15 of his 27 points and eight of his 12 rebounds in the second half.

The Eagles backcourt of La- Shawn Coulter and Mike Fayed combined for another 34 points, and Carlos Wilkins (11) and Fayed did superb jobs stopping the all-conference backcourt of Boyd and sophomore Scooter Alexander.

Boyd scored nine of Towson State's first 11 points, but his production over the next 27 minutes consisted of two more baskets at the end of the first half and a free throw to open the second.

Boyd came in averaging more than 10 free throws per game, but the officials have been letting teams play here, and he made just two of four. It wasn't that he was missing shots; Wilkins wouldn't give him any. A three-pointer and transition basket at the end gave Boyd 20 and an even 2,000 for his career.

Alexander missed his first five shots and finished 11 of 29 from the field. He and Matt Campbell had 22 apiece, and it was the latter's career high that nearly rescued Towson.

Campbell, a junior forward out of Broadneck High, scored 17 in the second half, including three three-pointers.

The last, from the top of the key, bounced nearly eight feet off the rim before dropping through, completing an 8-0 run that got the Tigers within 80-77 with 1:47 left.

With five seconds left on the shot clock and 1:06 in the game, Fayed banked in a runner that got the lead back to five and Winthrop into tonight's semifinal against Radford (a 73-69 winner over Liberty).

Winthrop scored on 10 straight possessions in the first half and raced to a 21-7 lead in the first eight minutes. The Tigers were six of 27 from the field by the time Wilkins made it 33-13 with 6:47 left.

The Tigers were within 57-51, but Boyd shot an air ball from three-point range with 12:27 left. Winthrop, which countered every Towson State surge, pushed the difference back to 13.

Alexander's three straight baskets cut it to 70-65, but Fayed's free throws got it back to 80-69.

"Playing last night [in the preliminary] was a major advantage," Winthrop coach Dan Kenney said. "We came out crisp and sharp, and that helped us to the early lead."

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