Drexel streaks past Towson in overtime

Tigers rally to force OT, but fall to Dragons for 12th straight time, 64-61

January 09, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

At two junctures, Towson coach Mike Jaskulski had reason to believe in his basketball team's chances to end Drexel's winning streak over his Tigers at 11.

Before yesterday's game, the Dragons seemed vulnerable because they were without Joe Linderman, who had given Towson so much trouble over the past three seasons. And when the Tigers overcame a 16-point second-half deficit to take the lead, the coach's faith seemed to have been rewarded.

But in both cases, Drexel forward Mike Kouser was there to restore order, scoring 31 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in a 64-61 overtime win, handing the Tigers (6-6, 2-2) their second straight loss in the America East. Towson hasn't beaten the Dragons since the teams joined the conference.

"It was a typical Towson-Drexel game, unfortunately," said Jaskulski.

Early on, Kouser served notice by scoring 20 points in the first half. Later, after a 22-5 run gave Towson a 50-49 lead with 8: 57 left in the game, the junior -- silent for most of the second half -- scored nine of his team's final 15 points.

"Kouser's one tough nut," Jaskulski said. "Tougher than anyone we had."

Kouser scored six points in the extra period, which might have been extended if Towson guard Damon Cason had been able to make a three-pointer as time expired. He didn't, and now the Tigers must beat the league's best team, Hofstra on Tuesday, to avoid a three-game losing streak.

The loss ended a tough week for Towson, which was two games over .500 after beating New Hampshire last Sunday. An iffy defensive performance and a loss to Maine followed on Tuesday, followed by an eight-hour trip home that featured three stops and lost luggage.

Bad news awaited them, as point guard Marlin Wise was officially declared ineligible, thus ending his career at Towson.

"Losing Marlin Wise was a disappointment to the team," said Cason, who finished with 11 points. "It didn't shock me, but it came as a shock to some of the other players. We just had to regroup and go on."

Drexel coach Steve Seymour said that the absence of Wise -- who had averaged 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds in 10 games this season -- was one less headache to worry about against a team that had traditionally given the Dragons (6-6, 3-0) plenty.

Towson's Brian Barber was shut out during regulation and scored his only four points in overtime. According to Jaskulski, it was the third straight game wherein he hadn't scored in the first half.

"It's an issue that Brian Barber had got to get involved early," he said. "And we have to find ways to get him involved early."

After taking a 5-0 lead over the first 1: 46, the Tigers struggled. Kouser scored 16 of his team's first 18 points on the way to a 36-26 halftime lead.

A few minutes into the second half the Tigers -- victims of 63 percent shooting up to this point -- went on a defensive rampage.

Guarded by Shaun Holtz, who led the Tigers with 18 points and seven rebounds, Kouser was non-existent for the next 10 minutes. Towson also shut everyone else down, forcing 19 percent shooting by Drexel in the second half.

The Tigers stormed back with runs of 9-0 and 9-1 and seemed to be in control. But with chances to extend their lead, they didn't.

"We had all the momentum in the world," Jaskulski said. "The noose was getting tight for them and we let them off the hook."

Holtz's basket with 5: 38 put Towson ahead 52-50, the last lead the team would hold. After a Kouser follow with 2: 29 left, Drexel led 55-52. Damon Cason's three-pointer with 35 seconds left sent the game into overtime.

In the extra period, the Tigers never led. Barber brought his team to within two points at 63-61 with 44 seconds left, but Stephen Starks' free throw gave Drexel a three-point lead with 12.6 seconds left.

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