Towson's narrow agony grows

Northeastern latest to pin close loss on Tigers, 74-73

February 11, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Forward Brian Barber called it a "devastating blow" to Towson University's drive for a bye in the opening round of the America East tournament, and coach Mike Jaskulski said "none of us feels very good about it right now."

But the bottom line is the Tigers found another way to lose a close conference game last night at the Towson Center, falling to Northeastern, 74-73, on Tyrone Hammick's follow-up shot with 5.5 seconds left.

The loss was Towson's fifth in its past six league games, with three of those by two points or fewer. The recent skid by Towson (10-12, 6-8 America East) has come after a promising 5-3 start in the league.

Towson needs to finish in the top six to avoid playing in the opening round of the America East tourney at the University of Delaware. Northeastern (3-9, 5-16) had lost eight straight on the road before invading the Towson Center.

"We're good enough to beat anybody in the league," said Jaskulski, whose Tigers are locked in a three-way fight with Vermont (7-6) and Hartford (5-7) for sixth place in the league. "But we need to finish games off. The sun will rise in the morning, but none of us feels very good right now."

Jaskulski said the key to the latest narrow loss was the inability to prevent Marcus Blossom from driving for a layup with 1: 09 left to cut the Towson lead to 73-72.

"That was the turning point," Jaskulski said. "We were up three, then miss a free throw and fail to make a defensive stop [on Blossom]. You have to stop that play if you want to win a game like this."

Blossom was fouled, but missed the free throw. However, the Tigers were guilty of a shot-clock violation with 32 seconds left. That set the stage for Hammick's game-winner off a missed eight-footer by center George Aygar.

It was Barber who missed the free throw with his team up, 73-70, marring an otherwise splendid 25-point, seven-rebound performance.

"Anytime you lose, points don't mean a thing," Barber said.

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