Hofstra's Claxton keeps Towson pinned in slump

America East's top scorer leads Dutchmen, 84-70

January 12, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Craig "Speedy" Claxton and a streaking Hofstra basketball team were in town last night.

But a suddenly slumping Towson squad didn't seem much interested in challenging Claxton and his teammates to a duel at the Towson Center.

The result was a lopsided 84-70 victory for the Flying Dutchmen in an America East mismatch that was virtually over at halftime, thanks to a masterful first-half performance by Claxton, who ledthe visitors to a 53-31 lead.

Towson has lost five of its past six games and Hofstra has won five of its past six.

Claxton, a 5-foot-11 senior with NBA aspirations, played 15 minutes in the first half, scored 22 points and had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

He finished with 29 points, eight rebounds, six assists and six steals in 28 minutes. It was quite a show by the America East's leading scorer (21.6 points a game) and the America East Player of the Year two seasons ago.

"If there's a better point guard than Claxton on the East Coast, I want to see him," said Towson coach Mike Jaskulski. "He's as good as it gets. They were good and we weren't. I'm really surprised we didn't play better. If we had beaten Drexel Saturday, this game would have been for first place. That's why it's hard to believe we didn't come to play."

Jaskulski hinted that he would make changes and said there was a possibility that freshman guard Gerald Weatherspoon would earn a starting spot in Friday night's road game against Northeastern.

Even though 14 of his team-leading 19 points came in the second half when the outcome had long since been determined, Weatherspoon was impressive.

Claxton set the tone for the night in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the game, using his quickness to embarrass a Marlin Wise-less Towson (6-7, 2-3) team with three steals and 11 points on the way to a 21-5 lead.

Claxton turned two of those early steals into a dunk and a layup and the rest of the evening was a cakewalk for the visitors (8-5, 3-1) before a quiet crowd of 577.

Wise's career at Towson is over, since the senior point guard has been ruled academically ineligible for the rest of the season. It's been an uphill struggle for Wise at Towson, as he missed half of last season due to academic difficulties and he didn't play in the Dec. 28 Michigan game because of a team violation.

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