Towson thumps Hartford, snaps 10-game loss streak Cason, Lexer and Harris spur Tigers to 75-68 win

January 19, 1998|By Mark Hoeflich | Mark Hoeflich,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It was the feel-good victory of the season.

After struggling to a 2-11 record and mired in a 10-game losing streak, the beleaguered men's basketball team at Towson University finally had something to celebrate yesterday, a 75-68 rTC America East Conference win over Hartford at the Towson Center.

It was the first victory for the Tigers (3-11, 1-6) since Dec. 1, when they defeated Morgan State, 62-48.

"We really had an increase in our energy level and that is a credit to the resiliency and character of this team," a relieved Towson coach Mike Jaskulski said. "I am so happy this team never stopped believing."

Jaskulski said that personnel changes were needed to shake up the Tigers, and judging from the performances of Damon Cason, Ryan Lexer and Lee Harris, it was exactly what Towson sought.

Cason came off the bench to score 13 of his team-high 16 points in the second half and help the Tigers fend off a Hawks rally. He converted five of six free throws in the final 20 seconds after a basket by Hartford's Keith Bike had the Hawks within 70-68.

Lexer played just 17 minutes but chipped in 10 points, none bigger than the two he scored on a layup with 1: 26 left to play that pushed the Tigers' lead to 68-62. And Harris, a 6-foot-3 freshman guard making his first start of the season after playing just four minutes over the first 13 games, added nine points and seven rebounds.

"It feels great knowing that we finally came through on the effort we've been putting in even with the losing streak," Cason said.

Hartford (8-8, 5-4) had lit up its last two opponents by shooting better than 60 percent from the field, but Jaskulski rotated as many as 11 players throughout the game and the Hawks' offense never got on track. Hartford shot 35.7 percent for the game and committed 22 turnovers.

Justin Bailey, successful on 18 of his last 21 field-goal attempts coming in, had the most trouble, missing 14 of 20 shots and getting nearly half of his 20 points from the foul line. The Hawks' Anthony Bethune scored a game-high 22.

"The substitutions really helped us on the defensive end, especially with getting the right matchups in the last five minutes," Jaskulski said. "When we function defensively as a unit, we do a pretty good job."

After a Marlin Wise three-pointer extended Towson's lead to six with 8: 28 remaining, the game turned into a battle at the free-throw line, which the Tigers won by making 19 of 23 attempts over the last 7: 24.

Pub Date: 1/19/98

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