After upset, Towson plans for another Tigers face No. 22 UMass after St. John's shocker

November 20, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

AMHERST, Mass. -- The celebration was hearty, but short-lived.

One day after upsetting St. John's for the biggest victory in Towson State basketball history, the Tigers were hard at work yesterday preparing for their second-round game in the preseason National Invitation Tournament.

They take on another tough assignment in No. 22 Massachusetts tonight, with the survivor advancing to the semifinals Wednesday at Madison Square Garden against top-ranked North Carolina.

"It was a big win," said guard Scooter Alexander. "We celebrated in the locker room afterward, and then we returned to reality."

"Sometimes it bothers me a little bit that you really can't let your players know how much you appreciate what they've done," said coach Terry Truax. "But there really isn't time.

"We've been getting a lot of national attention today. I've never had so many calls to answer."

The Tigers have been challenging top-drawer teams for six seasons and finally caught one napping.

"You knock on enough doors and one of them is bound to open," said Truax. "They [St. John's] had to be looking ahead. I'm sure they weren't expecting anything but winning."

Massachusetts won't be as unaware. The Minutemen advanced with a rather sloppy 68-60 decision over Cleveland State on their home court, with Mike Williams leading the way with 23 points.

They will provide a different kind of challenge for Towson than set-it-up St. John's. The Minutemen prefer a frantic, up-and-down game and are particularly adept at offensive rebounding.

And it will be a particularly interesting matchup for Alexander, who will be pitted against his former Dunbar High teammate, Donta Bright, a UMass sophomore.

"We're good friends," Alexander said of Bright. "He and Mike Lloyd and I were like a trio. But we haven't played against each other since we were about 10 when I was at Lafayette [Courts] and he was with Madison."

Towson's rather inexperienced point guards, led by starter Ralph Blalock, can expect a test in Game 2, but they have passed one against St. John's.

The Tigers viewed the tape of the Minutemen's opener and saw a lot of pressing and athletic ability, which will place more pressure on Towson's ballhandlers.

TONIGHT'S GAME

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Towson State (1-0) at Massachusetts (1-0) Site: Amherst, Mass., 7

TV: ESPN2

Radio: WTMD (89.7 FM)

Outlook: Towson State is coming off the biggest win in schoohistory, Thursday night's 66-65 win at St. John's in the first round of the Preseason National Invitation Tournament. The Tigers scored one point in the last 2:44, but that free throw by Matt Campbell broke a 65-65 tie. Scooter Alexander led the Tigers with 18 points. No. 22 Massachusetts struggled to beat Cleveland State, 68-60, in another first-round game Thursday. Dunbar graduate Donta Bright, a sophomore who sat out last season because of academics, was 4-for-9 from the field and made one of eight free throws in his debut for the Minutemen.

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