Towson State fouls out of NAC tourney, 84-74 43 free-throw points put Drexel in final

March 04, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEWARK, Del. -- Towson State knew that forcing center Malik Rose to the bench with foul trouble was the first step in getting past top-seeded Drexel in yesterday's North Atlantic Conference tournament semifinals.

Keep the two-time NAC Player of the Year down, the theory went, and the rest of the team might follow.

At least, that's how it was supposed to go.

Rose played only 21 minutes, and the Dragons were limited to eight field goals in the second half -- none over the last 7:40. But they also set tournament records for free throws attempted and made, and cut short the fifth-seeded Tigers' season with an 84-74 victory at the Bob Carpenter Center.

Drexel (25-3) went 43-for-58 from the line to offset 33 percent shooting from the field. Towson (16-12) made 13 of 20 free DTC throws, and three of its players fouled out.

"When you can get a team in foul trouble and get to the line and shoot free throws like they did today, it's a tre[See Towson, 4C] mendous

Towson, from Page 1C]

advantage," said Towson coach Terry Truax, "and it's a disadvantage to an opponent because you have to substitute people and not play people at normal positions.

"Also, it shows where Drexel was getting the ball, very close to the basket, with Rose and a couple of their other bigger guys."

Drexel can earn its third consecutive NCAA tournament berth and extend its winning streak to 14 by defeating Boston University in Thursday's championship game in Philadelphia. And it was junior guard Jeff Myers, with 25 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and constant hustle, who carried the Dragons to the threshold.

His 15 conversions and 22 attempts from the line also were tournament records, and his 39 minutes were a necessity.

"He might be the toughest kid, pound-for-pound, that I've coached in 15 years," said Drexel's Bill Herrion.

About all Towson had to show for yesterday's game, which included eight lead changes in the first half but none in the second, was a school-record 36 fouls. Seniors Ralph Blalock (19 points), Scooter Alexander (16) and Stevie Thomas each picked up their fifth, and the Tigers never got closer than seven

points in the last 10 minutes.

They were down 68-61 with 3:12 left when Rose fouled out after being stripped of a rebound by Towson's Matt Dellinger. But the junior center missed both free throws, and Myers made six over the next minute. Myers later chased down a loose ball after teammate Chuck Guittar's errant shot with 56 seconds remaining and Drexel leading 78-70.

Rose collected nine points and 11 rebounds. But three other starters besides Myers scored in double figures, including Guittar with 14 points, and a bench that was thought to be suspect gave Herrion some quality minutes.

"This might have been the best team victory that we've had in my five years at Drexel," he said.

Said Blalock: "I thought that [Rose's fifth foul] was the opportunity for us to take control of the game. But I guess that's why you have a bench. They did a good job in regard to sustaining the lead."

Truax was asked to reflect on a season that was tainted not only by defeats, but also by missed practices and questionable desire.

"These guys have gone out winners; they've certainly won more than they've lost," he said. "But our seniors were just as much a part of the good things as the not-so-good things in terms of commitment and leadership and being at practice every day. I doubt if Drexel's players missed practice, and that's why they're playing Thursday and we're not.

"Sometimes, for us this year, defeat was our punishment. When we didn't do the things we really knew were the right things, it usually ended up costing us a game."

NAC tournament

t Newark, Del.

Semifinals: Yesterday

Drexel 84, Towson State 74 Boston U. 66, Maine 64

Championship: Thursday

Boston U. at Drexel, 5 p.m.

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