Delaware ends Towson home streak

America East leaders stop roaring Tigers, 67-64, after 46-28 bulge at half

January 21, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

A valiant comeback ended in heartbreak for Towson University last night as Delaware continued to dominate their series by clinging to a 67-64 America East victory before 2,118 fans at the Towson Center.

It was the 10th straight win by the Blue Hens over Towson, including three in the postseason tournament, and it broke the Tigers' seven-game winning streak at home. Towson was the only remaining league team to have a perfect record on its own court.

Despite losing front-line starters Ajmal Basit and Maurice Sessoms to personal fouls, the Blue Hens overcame some foul-shooting deficiencies (9-for-19 in the game) to withstand Towson's rally. Austen Rowland and Greg Miller each hit a free throw in the waning seconds to keep Delaware (11-7, 7-2) in first place in the league.

Sam Sutton had a three-point attempt from the wing to tie with the clock expiring, but the ball caromed off the rim.

"It felt pretty good. I hoped it would go in, but it didn't," said Sutton, who scored six points after a career-high 30 last week against Northeastern that won him America East Player of the Week honors.

Rowland scored 17 and Basit 14 for Delaware, which stayed unbeaten in six January games. Brian Barber led four double-figure scorers for Towson with 17.

"We haven't beaten Delaware, Drexel and Hofstra. If we want to get into that elite group, we have to find a way to do it," said Tigers coach Mike Jaskulski. "I'm tired of coming close. It gets a little frustrating, but sooner or later it turns."

The game was a tale of two halves. The Blue Hens scorched with 63.3 percent first-half shooting - knocking down seven of 10 three-point tries - and took a commanding 46-28 lead.

But Towson (9-9, 5-4) refused to fold, rallying into a tie at 52 with a 24-6 run while the Blue Hens fumbled away the ball and lost their rhythm.

"I told our kids that this was a good team and they would come out strong in the second half," said Delaware's first-year coach David Henderson, a former star at Duke. "They just kept coming and we couldn't get anything to go our way. A few of our guys got in foul trouble, but one of the things that has pulled us through is our defense."

Towson tied it at 52 with 10:45 remaining in the game.

A 19-4 run pulled the Tigers to within three before the teams traded two free throws. Then Brian Allen hit a three-pointer to pull them even for the first time since the first six minutes.

Delaware quickly regained the lead on a follow shot by Robin Wentt and safeguarded the lead the rest of the way, but Towson pulled to within 65-64 on a Barber basket with 1:51 remaining. A free throw each by Rowland and Miller provided the final two points for Delaware, which has won 20 games the last three years.

Before Sutton's last-ditch attempt, the Tigers had a drive by Tamir Goodman blocked by Rowland and a tie-up of Shaun Holtz by Billy Wells (Dunbar) with Delaware gaining possession.

"Coach said [get] to the baseline and I just reached in and grabbed it," said Wells. "To me, we're really maturing. We're together and able to hold people off."

The Blue Hens also did a stout defensive job on Sutton. "Our goal was to shut him down," Henderson said. "Miller really took charge."

DELAWARE-Sessoms 2-3 3-4 7, Basit 7-15 0-1 14, Rowland 6-13 2-3 17, Miller 3-5 1-2 9, Wells 4-6 0-1 10, Ames 0-2 0-0 0, Wentt 1-2 1-4 3, Iversen 1-3 2-2 5, Knitter 1-3 0-0 2, Hindenlang 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 25-52 9-19 67. TOWSON-Barber 7-14 3-5 17, Sutton 1-5 3-4 6, Holtz 3-8 8-10 15, Allen 5-11 0-0 14, Goodman 3-6 4-4 12, Augustus 0-0 0-0 0, Shin 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-48 18-24 64. Half: Delaware, 46-28. 3-point goals: D 8-16 (Rowland 3-7, Miller 2-3, Wells 2-3, Iversen 1-2, Ames 0-1); T 8-20 (Allen 4-8, Goodman 2-4, Sutton 1-3, Holtz 1-4, Weatherspoon 0-1). Rebounds: D 37 (Basit, Rowland 6); T 28 (Barber 10). Assists: D 14 (Sessoms 4); T 15 (Goodman 8). Total fouls: D 22, T 18. Fouled out: Basit, Sessoms. A: 2,118.

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