NEWARK, Del. -- Want to know just how psyched up Delaware's Mike Pegues was for Towson last night?
Pegues nearly broke down the scorer's table on the opening tip-off when he went crashing over two seats in an attempt to get the ball before it bounced out of bounds.
He didn't quite get to the ball in time, but it proved to be a bad omen for the Tigers.
The Blue Hens' marquee player would spend the rest of the night breaking down Towson to the tune of 32 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals, leading his sluggish teammates to a 79-69 victory in the quarterfinals of the America East basketball tournament before a record crowd of 5,267 at the Bob Carpenter Center.
"Boy, am I glad he's gone," Towson coach Mike Jaskulski said of the Delaware senior. "He's a tremendous player, and they went to him from the start. But I felt we had a chance to win this game, unlike the past two years, and I believe Delaware thought we could win also."
Third-seeded Delaware (23-6) advances to today's 2: 30 p.m. semifinals against second-seeded Maine. Towson (11-17) ended its season with five straight losses including eight of the past nine.
Pegues' showing for Delaware against an overmatched pair of Towson centers, Shaun Holtz and Mike Shin, pointed out exactly how much the Tigers need to improve their inside game next season.
Holtz and Shin, who combined for 13 points and 10 turnovers, fouled out in trying to guard Pegues and also had trouble getting the ball out to Damon Cason on the wing when they were double-teamed.
"I was surprised that our inside guys didn't see that they were leaving me and Raul dePablo open by doubling down on them," said Cason, whose Towson career came to an end last night with and 11-point effort on 4-for-7 shooting.
Brian Barber and Cason were once again the bright spots for sixth-seeded Towson, with Barber exploding for 17 points in the second half to finish with 26 points, seven rebounds, two steals, one block and one assist.
But 6-foot-5 Pegues wasn't willing to play his usual tournament role last night against Towson.
Overdrive had been the name of the game for Pegues the past two years when the Blue Hens erased the Tigers in the America East quarterfinals with 20-point routs. Pegues, a DeMatha graduate, would kind of cruise along while his sharpshooting guards, John Gordon and Kestutis Marciulionis, would light up Towson from the outside.
Gordon wasn't much of a factor last night as he re-injured his foot and left the game early in the second half, and Marciulionis didn't get into the flow of the game until the second half.
In the first half, the Blue Hens seemed content early on waiting for Towson to take control of the game, but the Tigers had no inside game.
Pegues came out taking the ball to the basket, racking up 18 points and seven rebounds in the first half.
As Pegues pounded away inside, the Delaware fans were mostly silent. But that all changed with seven minutes left in the first half when Marciulionis tore through the lane for a slam-dunk that shoved the Blue Hens ahead 23-13.
TOWSON -- Barber 10-20 8-10 26, Davalli 1-6 1-2 4, Holtz 2-6 4-6 9, De Pablo 1-3 2 -2 5, Cason 4-7 1-2 11, Ragin 0-0 0-0 0, Allen 3-4 3-4 10, Weatherspoon 0-0 0-0 0, Hyle 0-0 0-0 0, Augustus 0-0 0-0 0, Shin 2-6 0-14. Totals 23-52 17-27 69.
DELAWARE -- Ndiaye 2-2 1-2 5, Pegues 14-23 3-8 32, Marciulionis 4-10 7-7 18, Gordon 1-6 2-2 5, Wells 1-5 6-6 8, Diouf 0-1 0-0 0, Miller 1-4 4-4 7, Rowland 0-0 4-4 4. Totals 23-51 27-33 79.
Half--Delaware 38-25. 3-point goals--T 6-14 (Cason 2-5, Davalli 1-1, Allen 1-2, Holtz 1-3, DePablo 1-3); D 6-17 (Marciulionis 3-6, Miller 1-2, Gordon 1-3, Pegues 1-4, Wells 0-2). Fouled out--Holtz, Shin, Diouf . Rebounds--T 31 (Cason 8), Delaware 37 (Pegues 13). Assists--T 11 (Cason 5); D 13 (Gordon 5). Total fouls--T 27; D 13. A--5,267.