Towson State found out last night what happens when the best player in America East is off his game: It doesn't prevent the league's best team from winning.
Senior forward Tunji Awojobi, who came in averaging nearly 25.0 points, had only four field goals, but Boston University got enough production from his supporting cast to deal the Tigers their third consecutive defeat, 81-63, at the Towson Center.
By this time next season, Awojobi might be in the NBA, but he spent most of the first half on the bench last night, playing seven minutes after getting two early fouls. He netted Boston University's first points of the game on a jumper from beyond the arc, then went silent.
He didn't stay that way. The 6-foot-7 senior scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half, though most of them came from the line. He also had four rebounds, well below his season's average.
The Terriers managed fine without his being a dominant force. They never trailed after a running hook from Joey Beard broke a 9-9 tie.
"There were a couple times when we had them on the ropes," said Towson State coach Terry Truax, "but we just couldn't get over for one reason or another."
The primary reason was outside shooting. Boston University had it; the Tigers didn't.
The Terriers were 8-for-14 from three-point range and shot 53 percent from the field, but they were most effective just laying off Towson State's guards.
Freshmen Marlin Wise and Damon Cason of Southern-Baltimore were a combined 3-for-17, which didn't bode well for a team that could get only seven first-half minutes out of senior Michael Keyes because of the flu and a tender ankle.
Wise, who repeatedly was left open on the perimeter, didn't practice after Tuesday's loss at Pennsylvania because of illness. Freshman guard Raul de Pablo also had the flu and sat on the bench in street clothes, taking away another outside threat.
"We were able to jam up [inside]," said Boston University coach Dennis Wolff. "Our ability to sag off a couple guys really set the tone."
Beard had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and guard Jim Schwartz added 15 points for Boston University (3-1, 1-0). Junior forward Ralph Biggs led Towson State (2-4, 0-1), which was playing its third game in six days, with 18 points and eight rebounds.
"In fairness to Towson, they looked a little tired to me," Wolff said.
The Tigers were ahead 9-4 before the Terriers ran off 11 straight points. The Terriers led 35-31 at halftime and never were up by fewer than nine points over the last 8: 21.
Central Connecticut 61, UMBC 52: Freshman guard Rick Mickens hit a three-point goal with 1: 16 remaining to break a 52-52 tie, and visiting Central Connecticut (3-0) went on to beat UMBC (0-4). It is the first 3-0 start in Central's 11-year Division I history.
Nebraska 88, Coppin State 72: Cookie Belcher scored 22 and had four assists to lead Nebraska over visiting Coppin State in an opening-round game in the Ameritas Classic. Eagles center Terquin Mott had game highs of 35 points and 13 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end.
Coppin State will play Colgate, a loser to Bowling Green, in tonight's consolation game.
Pub Date: 12/07/96