Towson women defeat Navy Guard Joyner scores 17 in Tigers' 84-75 victory

December 31, 1997|By Dan Hickling | Dan Hickling,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LORETTO, Pa. -- The Towson University women, picked last in the America East preseason poll, continued their strong start yesterday with a 84-75 victory over Navy in the opening round of the Hoss's Red Flash Classic.

The Tigers (6-3) will play William and Mary at 3 p.m. today for the tournament championship, and Navy (9-2) will face St. Francis in the consolation game at 1 p.m.

If Towson keeps winning games like yesterday's, it won't be able to sneak up on anyone in the America East.

"We probably figured that one out a couple of games ago," said Towson coach Ellen Fitzkee. "People have been scouting us and figuring out what we can do. Now the onus is on us to execute our system."

Execution was a relative term in the first half, when the Tigers shot 14 of 36 (39 percent), yet held a 35-32 lead over the Mids. Navy hit 13 of 25 but couldn't match Towson's three three-pointers (two by forward Sonia Keiner).

"We didn't recognize their three-point shooters quickly enough," said Mids coach Joe Sanchez. "That's probably the best they've shot all year from [there]. To be honest with you, we wanted to [make] them score from inside, but they were able to score from the perimeter. Unfortunately, that was a factor in them winning the game."

Having kept Navy honest on the perimeter, the Tigers were able to use their favored inside game, led by point guard LaTonya Joyner, to put on a surge after intermission. The 5-foot-4 senior scored 12 of her game-high 17 after the break, accounting for three baskets (and two assists) in the crucial stretch when Towson stretched its lead to 50-40.

"We just got the momentum," said Joyner. "We remembered what happened at the Loyola game [Dec. 22, when they failed to hold onto a 13-point lead]. We kept that in mind and tried not to take any lead for granted."

A layup by Jill McGowan -- one of five Tigers to score 10 points -- built the lead to 54-41 before Navy began to display some vital signs, even if they were faint.

On the Mids' next possession, leading scorer Becky Dowling (16 points) pulled up outside the arc and hit to keep Navy within 10. After denying the Tigers at the other end, Joanne Groth had a chance to bring the Mids to within seven, with just over eight minutes left. Her try for three bounced off the rim, and Towson ran its lead to 21.

"This was all about respect," said Joyner. "We needed to prove this to ourselves, as well as Navy."

Pub Date: 12/31/97

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