On rebound, Towson tops Hartford Single-minded Tigers advance to semis, 66-61

March 06, 1998|By Kevin Thomas | Kevin Thomas,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ORONO, Maine -- Towson University took another step further in its brief history in the America East. The Tigers beat Hartford, 66-61, in the conference quarterfinals yesterday before 2,201 at the Alfond Arena on the University of Maine campus.

Fourth-seeded Towson (15-12) will play top-seeded Vermont (21-6), a 72-69 winner over Hofstra (12-16), in the semifinals at 7 tonight.

In their first conference season in 1996, the Tigers lost in the first round. They were eliminated in the quarterfinals last year. In preseason polls this season, Towson was picked to finish last.

"You've got to respect Towson now. You've just got to," said senior guard LaTonya Joyner, who led Towson with 14 points, eight assists and four rebounds.

"We were picked 10th and we were really [mad] about that. It gave us something to fight for."

That Joyner, 5 feet 3, got four rebounds says something of Towson's fight. Hartford is one of the better rebounding teams, ranking third in the conference. Towson ranks ninth in the conference, but the Tigers out-rebounded Hartford, 38-37.

Fifth-seeded Hartford (11-16) has one of the worst offenses in the league and shot just 36 percent yesterday. But it usually compensates with offensive rebounds.

In the final 17 minutes, Hartford got only one offensive rebound.

"We wanted to give them one shot and be done," Towson coach Ellen Fitzkee said.

Towson took a 53-43 lead with 7: 48 left. But momentum turned quickly, as Hartford got on a hot streak and closed to 59-58.

Towson, however, answered with Michele Lanigan's 15-footer and two free throws by Joyner for a 63-58 lead with 42 seconds left.

In other quarterfinal action, Cindy Blodgett scored 38 as second-seeded Maine (19-8) routed Drexel (12-16), 84-59; and Tesha Tinsley (Western) scored 19 as third-seeded Northeastern (15-12) defeated sixth-ranked New Hampshire (12-15), 71-59.

HARTFORD -- Ivnik 6-11 5-7 18, Humbert 5-11 5-7 15, DiJulia 1-4 0-0 2, Stolle 4-15 5-5 14, Macca 1-3 0-1 2, Gronbeck 2-6 2-2 6, Rutledge 0-2 2-2 2, Murphy 0-0 0-0 0, Charles 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 20-56 19-24 61.

TOWSON -- Keiner 2-9 0-0 5, Gordon 4-9 0-0 8, Perry 5-7 0-0 10, Joyner 5-11 4-5 14, Smith 2-7 1-3 5, Wright 2-4 0-0 4, McGowan 0-1 0-0 0, Lanigan 5-6 2-3 12, Speer 0-0 0-0 0, Pilione 2-3 2-2 6, Stevens 0-1 2-3 2. Totals 27-58 11-16 66.

Halftime--Towson 33-31. 3-point goals--Hartford 2-6 (Ivnik 1-2, Stolle 1-2, DiJulia 0-1, Rutledge 0-1). Towson 1-7 (Keiner 1-5, McGowan 0-1, Pilione 0-1). Fouled out--Keiner, Gordon. Rebounds--Hartford 37 (Humbert 12), Towson 38 (Stevens 7). Assists--Hartford 15 (DiJulia 9), Towson 13 (Joyner 8). Total fouls--Hartford 20, Towson 22.

Pub Date: 3/06/98

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