Victory puts Towson alone atop Big South

February 06, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

Before last night's game against Radford, Towson State coach Terry Truax was informed that he would be suspended by the Big South Conference for tomorrow night's home game against Liberty.

The league was punishing Truax for his criticism of a league official after his halftime ejection against UMBC on Wednesday.

"That's the first time I've been suspended in 311 games," said Truax. "Once I criticized the official [William Bush], to the media, I knew the consequences. It was all handled in a classy matter."

And Truax could say the same about the way his Tigers performed last night in beating Radford, 73-63, to claim sole possession of the Big South lead.

This was a dramatic turnaround from their meeting at Radford a month ago, when the Highlanders romped, 82-58, and held the Tigers to a season-low 33 percent shooting.

"Don't ask me to explain the difference," said Truax. "We're not a team like Indiana that is always consistent. If they lose at Iowa, BTC you know they'll win their next one at home."

But the Tigers may be even more efficient at home than Bobby Knight's Hoosiers. In raising their overall record to 13-7 and conference mark to 9-2, they won their 16th straight at the Towson Center.

But this one was a trifle sticky for 36 minutes. Radford (13-5, 7-3) trailed 60-58 when sophomores Ralph Blalock and Steve Thomas triggered an 11-0 run by the Tigers.

The Highlanders did not score again until a meaningless breakaway layup by Anthony Walker with 10 seconds left. Their final three points came at the buzzer.

Blalock equaled his career-high with, 27 points. The muscular 6-foot-2 guard from Sanford, Del., also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and made 4 steals. Junior guard Scooter Alexander from Dunbar chipped in with 20 points, but the unexpected offensive boost came from Walbrook product Thomas, the stocky 6-foot-7 forward who scored all 12 of his points in the second half to go with his eight rebounds.

"I was a little concerned at halftime when Blalock and Alexander scored all but six of our 32 points," said Truax. "We needed someone else to step up in the second half, and Thomas delivered.

"We've been trying to convince him that he's more effective playing inside than throwing up fall-away jump shots, and tonight he got the message."

But it was Towson's tenacious man-to-man defense that proved the major difference from its first meeting with Radford. The Tigers held the Big South's best shooting team (53 percent) to 39 percent shooting. Only muscular center Tyrone Travis (20 points) shot with consistency.

"We dictated the game with our defensive pressure," said Blalock. "In the first half, we played more up-tempo. And in the second half, we got 41 points, mostly out of our half-court offense."

And mostly with Blalock providing clutch shots whenever Radford made a run.

After graduating from Sanford Academy, Blalock also received scholarship offers from Delaware, Temple and Old Dominion.

"Delaware tried selling me on 'state pride,' but I needed a change of scenery," said Blalock. "[Senior center] John James is also from Delaware and helped convince me to come here.

"I know because of my work ethic, I'd have been successful at Delaware, but Coach Truax gives me a lot of freedom to play my game here."

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