Old Dominion slips past Towson, 84-82 Tigers rally, only to lose opener on last-second shot

November 23, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

At times, the only thing Towson State had going for it in last night's season opener against Old Dominion was stubbornness.

Better defensive intensity and some clutch shooting wouldn't come until much later. But with a little luck, it might have been enough.

Sophomore guard Brion Dunlap drove the lane and scored with fourth-tenths of a second left, and Old Dominion survived a desperation pass and tip at the end to defeat the Tigers, 84-82, before 1,655 at the Towson Center.

Towson State senior guard Michael Keyes made the first of two free throws with 10 seconds remaining to tie the score. He missed the second and Old Dominion's Cal Bowdler grabbed the rebound, setting up Dunlap's running one-hander.

Junior Derick Newton threw a pass the length of the court to 6-foot-6 junior Ralph Biggs, who out-jumped Bowdler and swatted the ball toward the basket. It rolled off the rim as the buzzer sounded, giving the Monarchs their eighth win over Towson State without a loss.

"That's one of our plays," said Biggs, who made two free throws and followed a miss by freshman Marlin Wise (Southern) with a minute left to give the Tigers their last lead, 81-80. "When it hit the back [of the rim], I thought it was going in."

For much of the night, it appeared the Tigers were going down hard. They fell behind twice by 16 points in the second half, the last time with 13: 10 remaining. But the Monarchs' offense went stale, partly because of Towson State's trapping defense.

Keyes hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Tigers their first lead, 75-74, with 4: 10 remaining. They were sandwiched around a block by Biggs (14 points, nine rebounds) as part of a furious Towson State rally that included two free throws by junior center Ryan Lexer for a 77-76 lead.

"We learned we're better than we thought we were," said Keyes, the only returning full-time starter.

Keyes and Lexer each had 17 points. Newton, playing his first game for Towson State after transferring from La Salle, had 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Odell Hodge, a 6-9, 250-pound senior, led Old Dominion with 24 points, 16 in the second half.

Saying he couldn't fault his team's effort, Towson State coach Terry Truax said Dunlap (nine assists) controlling the ball near the end "was probably smart on their part."

"Because you have to respect their inside play so much, in a situation like that, if he gets any kind of path to the basket, the defenders have to step up and look for a charge," he said. "But they hurt us inside so much, our big guys were reluctant to step in."

The Monarchs' imposing frontcourt, which included center Reggie Bassette, a 6-9, 245-pound sophomore, didn't create as many problems for Towson State in the first half as their outside shooting. They went 8-for-14 from beyond the arc, one short of tying the Old Dominion record for a half, and led by 10 at the break.

OLD DOMINION -- Poag 5-12 1-2 15, Hodge 11-17 2-2 24, Bassette 6-11 2-2 14, Dunlap 2-4 1-2 5, Byers 2-8 0-0 6, Bowdler 3-3 3-4 10, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Bryant 2-6 0-0 6, Sherod 0-0 0-0 0, Youngblood 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 31-63 13-16 84.

TOWSON STATE -- Biggs 4-12 6-7 14, Newton 3-10 6-7 12, Lexer 5-10 6-7 17, Schneider 2-2 2-2 7, Keyes 6-12 3-5 17, Wise 2-5 0-0 4, Pablo 0-0 0-0 0, Harp 3-6 1-2 7, Cason 1-2 1-2 4. Totals 26-59 25-32 82.

Rebounds--OD 31 (Hodge 9); TS 39 (Biggs, Lexer 9)). Assists--OD 19 (Dunlap 9); TS 13 (Newton 5). Att--1,655.

Pub Date: 11/23/96

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