Towson finds hope in another loss Drexel wins, 79-66, but not as handily as first meeting

February 03, 1997|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Towson State didn't get embarrassed by Drexel yesterday, which is more than the Tigers could say about their previous encounter last month. They didn't get a win, either, but at least the beating wasn't as bad.

That's pretty much what it has come to at Towson State -- digging through the rubble of a 5-15 season for any jewel, no matter how small.

This one could have been precious. The Tigers were down by only three early in the second half, but a couple of prolonged dry spells ended any hopes of an upset and unearthed another loss, 79-66, before 902 at the Towson Center.

At least it wasn't a repeat of the Jan. 7 game, when the Dragons (15-6 overall, 11-2 in America East) shot 58 percent from the field, including 14-for-21 from three-point range, and won by 30.

Yesterday, the Dragons shot 60 percent in the first half and made seven three-pointers. They led by 15 before Towson State went on a 13-3 run, with five players scoring.

Baskets by Derick Newton (22 points) and Ralph Biggs (18) to start the second half cut Drexel's lead to 45-42, but Dragons forward Chuck Guittar (20 points, 15 rebounds) converted a three-point play, Towson State missed two shots on its next possession and Drexel center Joe Linderman made a driving layup. The Dragons, an unselfish team with a passion for passing, ran off 11 straight points, and the Tigers were kept at a safe distance.

They went almost four minutes without scoring after Biggs' layup, and 6: 16 elapsed between layups by Ryan Lexer and Biggs during another crucial stretch, when Drexel -- which had 17 assists, compared to nine for Towson State -- pushed its lead to 66-50.

"Drexel did a real good job in executing their offense, getting good shots. It's a great advantage when you have guys who can make perimeter shots like they can," said Towson State coach Terry Truax, whose team committed just one turnover in the first half and seven total.

"This is a team that's been to the NCAA tournament three years in a row. They're a team that's not going to fold. They're going to stay focused and it's a big confidence factor, and I think we're the antithesis of that right now. We were missing some pretty easy shots in the second half, and I think that's probably from being tentative and a little tight. It just showed the total difference in the two teams' confidence."

This is Truax's 14th year at Towson State, and one of his most difficult. The Tigers posted winning records in seven of the previous eight seasons and hadn't won fewer than 12 games HTC since 1985-86.

Yesterday's loss was the Tigers' seventh at home, one short of the school record. It lowered their last-place America East mark to 2-11, and Truax's career record to 198-199.

"There are probably two or three key games this year that, if they had gone the other way, would have impacted other games. The record might be better, and if you've got that, you have a little more confidence," Truax said.

"I think there's some frustration among the team, and it's only because they're trying and they're not getting some success and they're having a real hard time. Most people expect, if you work hard and do the right things, then you should get some reward. Sometimes, it just doesn't happen in basketball.

"You say, 'Gee, when are we going to get it all together?' You just keep hoping."

Pub Date: 2/03/97

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