Liberty deals Towson 2nd home loss in row

January 10, 1995|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

The road to a third straight Big South Conference regular-season title has gotten extremely rocky for Towson State.

Last night's 72-59 defeat to Liberty at the Towson Center will make it difficult for the Tigers to repeat as the postseason tournament's top seed although 14 games remain in league play.

Especially with the meatgrinder of a schedule facing them.

The Tigers now leave home for five of their next six league games, play Louisville at the Towson Center, then return to the road for two more Big South tests in a backbreaker stretch.

Liberty (5-6, 1-1) halted a five-game losing streak by breaking open a close contest in the final three minutes, hitting 10 consecutive free throws and outscoring the Tigers, 14-3. That spurt saddled Towson with its second straight home-court loss for the first time since the final regular-season game of 1988 when Lafayette won here, 71-63.

Before losing to Radford two days earlier, Towson (5-5, 0-2) had captured 22 victories in a row at home.

Coach Terry Truax liked the effort of his team much better than last Saturday's, noting that "we competed well," but said "Radford may have softened us up a little bit for Liberty."

The Flames' inside duo of 6-9 Jason Dixon and 6-10 Peter Aluma dominated most of the way. Dixon accumulated 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks and Aluma was a terror defensively in the first half and finished with 14 points, six rebounds and six blocks.

And Liberty also took care of the ball more resolutely than in Saturday's setback at UMBC, where its guard play was spotty.

That was remedied to some degree last night by quick freshman Larry Jackson, who pitched in 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

"He was very active," Liberty coach Jeff Meyer said of Jackson. "We just had much more productive people than we had at UMBC. You can't put your finger on it, but our kids decided to give a stronger effort.

"Some of it was Towson. We had never beaten them here, so we played harder."

Towson was within 58-56 with 3:13 to play before two free throws by Dixon, a traveling call against Ralph Blalock (game-high 22 points) and a layup by Dixon extended the Flames' lead to six.

Truax took his second timeout with three minutes to go, but a steal by Dixon foiled the play he set up and Towson was obliged to foul from there. Guard Mark Reed sank six in a row from the line, Jackson made his two and that was that.

The Tigers' offensive continuity was disrupted by Aluma and Dixon, Towson missed two slams at key times and then it seemed ot have trouble getting anyone open.

In Towson's defense, guards Michael Keyes (sprained ankle) and Quintin Moody (flu) are still not 100 percent.

"In some of our early wins, we were fortunate that we executed when we didn't match up well. We didn't match up well against this team [inside] and we didn't execute," said Truax.

NOTES: Tickets for Towson's Jan. 30 game against Louisville will go on sale tomorrow at the Towson Center. They will be available from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Reserved seats cost $10; general admission is $5.

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