Towson trips N.C.-Greensboro

January 24, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

In the past two years, when Towson State dominated the Big South Conference, winning at home could hardly be viewed as an upset.

But this is a new season, and when the no-longer dominant Tigers handed North Carolina-Greensboro its first loss in seven conference games, 73-66 at the Towson Center last night, it indeed was a surprise.

A severe tongue-lashing by coach Terry Truax, disturbed by his team's 1-4 start in the conference and its desultory play in a 78-77 loss to UMBC on Saturday night, obviously got the Tigers' attention.

After trailing 37-36 at halftime and watching the Spartans make half of their 30 field-goal attempts, the Tigers played inspired defense in the second half, limiting the visitors to nine field goals in 33 attempts.

Still, it took clutch shooting by senior center Jason Crump (12 points, eight rebounds) and a string of 10 straight free throws in the last six minutes to break a seven-game winning streak by the Spartans (12-3).

Towson led 62-56 with 1:56 remaining when Scott Hartzell, Greensboro's scoring leader, made his only field goal of the game by hitting an open three-pointer.

But Ralph Blalock, Crump and Stevie Thomas hit six straight foul shots to put the game out of reach.

"Coach Truax reminded us that we've been losing games we shouldn't," said Blalock. "We've been lacking a killer instinct and letting games slip out of our hands."

But Crump and Blalock would not let this one get away.

Hindered by a poke in the eye in the opening minutes and a box-and-one designed to control him, Blalock managed only two shots and a single field goal in the first half. But he finished with 10 points, including 6-for-6 from the foul line, and keyed the defense with six steals.

Michael Keyes added 16 points (5-for-5) and DeRon Robinson had 11 points in a balanced Towson attack.

Crump, an English native who makes up for his lack of speed with hustle, did a better job of sealing off the middle in the second half after Spartans center Brian Brunson had burned the Tigers for 16 first-half points on 7-for-8 shooting.

Brunson was held scoreless in the second half by the policing of Crump and Thomas (10 points, eight rebounds). "I reminded Thomas that I recruited Brunson heavily, but chose him instead," said Truax.

In his 12th season at Towson State, Truax realizes that rivals have made the Tigers (7-7) a special target this season after playing whipping boys the previous two years.

"They know this is our last year in the Big South, and everyone is making us their big game, especially here at the Towson Center," said Truax. "But our problem is that we haven't been playing hard enough. I told my guys that after the UMBC loss, but exactly what I told them was unprintable."

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