Top seed Vt. denies Tigers shot at title Towson women fall, 78-55, in America East semifinal

March 07, 1998|By Kevin Thomas | Kevin Thomas,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ORONO, Maine -- Towson University hoped to advance to its first conference championship game in 14 years.

But those hopes fizzled out last night. Top-seeded Vermont routed the fourth-seeded Tigers, 78-55, in the semifinals of the America East tournament at the Alfond Arena on the University of Maine campus.

Towson finished its season at 15-13. Vermont (22-6) advanced to today's 3 p.m. conference title game against Maine, a 77-70 winner over Northeastern in the other semifinal. The Tigers have not played in a championship game since they won the 1984 East Coast Conference title game. It appeared they had a chance last night since they were one of only three conference teams to beat Vermont this season, 62-58, on Jan. 29 in Towson.

But in that win, the Tigers were even in rebounding with Vermontand held the Catamounts to 39 percent shooting.

Vermont shot 58 percent (to Towson's 31 percent) this time, and out-rebounded the Tigers, 44-38. Senior guard Lori Taylor was especially hot, hitting eight of nine shots, including a conference tournament record 7-for-7 from the three-point line, for a game-high 25 points.

"The game plan wasn't to leave her open," Towson coach Ellen Fitzkee said. "But give her credit. She knocked them down. I thought Vermont played an outstanding offensive game."

Towson played with Vermont for most of the first half and led 12-11 with 13: 36 left in the half. The Tigers were not shooting well, but they were grabbing offensive rebounds and forced 11 turnovers.

But Towson did not get an offensive rebound in the last eight minutes of the half, and Vermont began taking care of the ball. The Tigers trailed 31-26, but the Catamounts scored the last 10 points before the break, including Taylor's fifth three-pointer of the half, taking a 41-26 halftime lead.

The Catamounts shot 64 percent in the first half, to Towson's 30 percent. Only 6-foot-2 freshman forward Jess Gordon found her touch, hitting six of nine shots in the half. She finished with 18 points, the only Towson player in double figures.

Towson started the second half with five straight points, closing to 41-31. But Vermont answered by making its next five shots, expanding the lead to 52-34. The Tigers never threatened again.

TOWSON -- Keiner 1-14 2-2 5, Gordon 9-14 0-0 18, Perry 1-8 2-4 4, Joyner 4-11 1-4 9, Smith 1-5 0-0 2, Wright 1-2 0-0 2, McGowan 1-5 0-0 3, Lanigan 3-5 1-2 7, Pilione 0-6 1-2 1, Baugh 0-1 0-0 0, Welsing 0-0 0-0 0, Stevens 1-1 2-4 4. Totals 22-72 9-18 55.

VERMONT -- Burke 2-2 0-0 4, Church 7-12 4-7 18, Taylor 8-9 2-3 25, Cronin 2-11 2-4 6, Kirvin 6-8 1-4 15, Conrad 0-1 0-0 0, Bothwell 0-0 0-0 0, Burroughs 0-0 0-0 0, Dodge 0-2 2-2 2, Coleman 0-0 0-0 0, Zornow 4-5 0-0 8. Totals 29-50 11-20 78.

Halftime--Vermont 41-26. 3-point goals--Towson 2-18 (Keiner 1-9, McGowan 1-4, Pilione 0-2, Joyner 0-1, Smith 0-1, Baugh 0-1), Vermont 9-14 (Taylor 7-7, Kirvin 2-3, Cronin 0-4). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Towson 38 (Perry 7), Vermont 44 (Church 10). Assists--Towson 11 (Lanigan 5), Vermont 20 (Kirvin 9). Total fouls--Towson 19, Vermont 18.

Pub Date: 3/07/98

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