Towson tops AU at buzzer

January 05, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

Before last night's game with American University, Towson State assistant coach Bill Leonard recounted to freshman guard Michael Keyes, how, in 1984, he had made a half-court shot for the Tigers to force a second overtime in an eventual 71-62 victory over the Eagles.

Keyes must have paid strict attention to the fellow Pittsburgh native. After American's Erick Lawrence hit a tying 10-foot bank shot with six seconds left last night, Keyes dribbled quickly downcourt and fired home a 25-foot, three-pointer that barely beat the buzzer, giving the Tigers an emotional 76-73 victory before only 845 Towson Center witnesses.

Keyes was mobbed under a pile of jubilant teammates at half-court as the Tigers, who were routed by Maryland, 109-71, in their last outing on Dec. 23, evened their record at 5-5.

"Coach [Terry] Truax had told us with 19 seconds left that if AU tied it, we shouldn't call a timeout, but look to get a shot off the break," said Keyes, who made only one other basket in 13 minutes of action.

"I looked for our Scooter Alexander [19 points], but his man was overplaying him. So I just made a move to the left and let it fly."

The dramatic shot capped an uphill struggle for the Tigers, who trailed American, 64-56, with just over six minutes remaining.

The Eagles (2-8), who own a 19-3 advantage in their competition ZTC with Towson, seemed in control. Forwards Lawrence (8-for-10, 25 points) and Tim Fudd (23 points, 11 rebounds) repeatedly drove to the hoop with little resistance.

"We had a lot of defensive lapses," said Truax. "But when we got down by eight points, we picked things up defensively and forced them into some mistakes."

American suffered a series of turnovers and the Tigers used a 7-0 run to close to 64-63, with Alexander contributing four points.

Sparkling the Towson comeback was senior center and co-captain John James, who tied a career-high 19 points to go with his 10 rebounds and seven blocks, another personal high.

"John gave us a big lift tonight," said Truax. "We didn't know how he'd perform. He's a real quiet kid, like John Wayne, and he'd missed three of our holiday practices with the flu."

A three-point play by James put Towson in front, 71-70, with 1:17 left. But Lawrence made one of two free throws to knot it at 71. Alexander reclaimed the lead for Towson, double-pumping to hit a 12-footer in the lane with 30 seconds remaining.

L Lawrence answered again, only to set up Keyes' winning shot.

Asked about relying on a freshman in crunch time, Truax said, "When we give a kid a scholarship, we expect him to be able to play. After two months, I don't look at Keyes as a freshman."

No, last night he looked more like a hero.

K? The Tigers, who have played only two home games, begin Big

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