Towson gest past Coastal Carolina

January 16, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

Superb backcourt play and home-court advantage, two ingredients that have served Towson State well in recent years, helped to serve up a 80-74 Big South Conference win over Coastal Carolina last night at Towson Center.

Sophomore guard Ralph Blalock led Towson State with a career-high 24 points, and guards Scooter Alexander and Quintin Moody followed with 17 and 12, respectively. Junior guard Keke Hicks led the Chanticleers with 28 points, and senior forward Mohammed Acha had 25.

The Tigers (7-6, 2-1) are unbeaten at Towson Center the past year, as they've won 11 straight since a Jan. 9, 1993, non-conference loss to Delaware.

The game matched the teams that dominated the Big South last year, when Towson State won the regular-season title with a 14-2 record and Coastal Carolina (7-5, 2-2) won the postseason tournament after the top-seeded Tigers were upset in the quarterfinals.

Towson State had a 55-42 lead heading into the final 12 minutes, but Coastal Carolina cut the difference to 57-51 with 8:45 left. The Tigers picked up the pace, however, as Stevie Thomas made a short jumper and Blalock converted a steal into a three-point play.

Coastal Carolina trailed 68-61 with five minutes left, but Matt Campbell made two free throws, Alexander made a follow basket, Blalock converted another three-point play and Campbell made a 12-footer from the left side for a 77-61 lead with 1:46 left.

Down by 11 points at the half, the Chanticleers got within seven on three occasions early in the second half, but Moody, who went to Cardinal Gibbons High, turned a steal into a breakaway basket and followed up a teammate's miss to make it 55-42 with 12:07 left.

Coastal Carolina and Towson State were the preseason choices to go 1-2 in the Big South, but the emotion that would normally surround that kind of matchup took a while to surface. They played a downright dainty first half, when 11 fouls were called.

Towson State coach Terry Truax has criticized his team's lack of emotion, and Russ Bergman, his counterpart at Coastal Carolina, has had to deal with the specter of a NCAA probe.

The NCAA is investigating an assortment of possible violations by the Chanticleers, who have won the Big South tournament three of the past four years.

The Tigers came into Big South play with a 5-5 non-conference record, which matched their best non-conference start in recent years. They were 5-5 in 1990-91, the last time they made the NCAA tournament.

The Tigers got a three-pointer from Moody and a follow from Blalock in the first minute, and the Chanticleers were not again closer than three points. Fueled by two 9-0 runs, Towson State moved to a 38-24 lead and was on top 40-29 at the half.

Blalock made the Tigers' three-guard set work in the first half, when he had 12 points and six rebounds. Acha was Coastal Carolina's lone offensive threat in a six-minute span midway through the half, when he scored two three-pointers and dunked off a lob pass.

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