Late run lifts Towson over UMBC Biggs' 26 propel Tigers to 75-60 win, their second straight

November 27, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

For the first time this season, Towson State didn't have to spend much of its energy trying to fight back from a large deficit.

Last night at UMBC, the Tigers found another way to exhaust themselves, first by holding on as their lead slipped away, then hoping to be the last team standing after a furious exchange.

Junior forward Ralph Biggs led all scorers with a career-high 26 points, and the Tigers ran off 11 straight late in the second half to escape UMBC Fieldhouse with a 75-60 victory.

After trailing for most of the first half, UMBC moved ahead 40-38 with 15: 51 left in the game on a three-point play by sophomore guard Michael van Veen. Then came three ties and three lead changes, the last with 3: 50 remaining on two free throws by junior forward Derick Newton.

Freshman guard Marlin Wise made a steal and layup, Biggs scored on another layup after a steal and pass by senior guard Michael Keyes, and Newton made two free throws to move Towson State further ahead, 66-59.

UMBC's Eric Poiesz made the first of two free throws to interrupt the run, but he missed the second and Biggs converted a three-point play.

Newton had 16 points, including 11 in the second half. Sophomore guard Alhamisi Simms led UMBC with 15, and Poiesz grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds.

The Retrievers took their biggest lead, 52-47, on a three-pointer by senior Marc Lay with nine minutes left. Towson State freshman Damon Cason hit from beyond the arc, UMBC freshman Isaac Green scored inside off a bounce pass from Lay, the Tigers' Florian Schneider made a three-pointer, and Simms did likewise for the Retrievers.

And so it went -- fast and furious, and almost down to the wire.

"We were trying to work the clock down a little, but some individuals got a little impatient," said UMBC coach Tom Sullivan. "In fairness to [the Tigers], they had some kids step up for them."

In the end, Towson State had its second straight win after losing its opener by two points to Old Dominion in a game in which the Tigers twice were down by 16 in the second half. They got off to a slow start against Navy on Sunday before winning, 76-68.

"When UMBC made its run, it was a result of our kids not really taking control of the game," said Towson State coach Terry Truax. "We didn't utilize our quickness, just a lot of lapses. But it bodes well for our team's attitude and character because this team knows it can fight and come back."

Just as they had done in Saturday's 79-67 season-opening loss to Loyola, the Retrievers threatened to go quietly, then made some noise.

Three times, Towson State opened 13-point leads in the first half, the last coming after a short baseline jumper by Biggs with about two minutes left. But UMBC ran off the last seven points, including a jumper from beyond the arc by Simms with three seconds remaining, and went into the locker room down 34-28.

"In the first half, the game might have been too easy and some of the guys got a false sense of security," Truax said.

Biggs had 13 points in the half, making four of six shots from the field. He's scored 59 points in three games after averaging 4.9 last season.

The Tigers shot 50 percent (11-for-22) from the field in the first half, and matched it (13-for-26) in the second.

Pub Date: 11/27/96

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