Towson women are ousted from America East tourney

Northeastern wins, 71-63, despite rally by Tigers

March 08, 2001|By Patrick Garrity | Patrick Garrity,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BURLINGTON, Vt. - The Towson University women's basketball team's long, cold winter ended last night with a long, cold half at Patrick Gymnasium.

The Tigers struggled through the first 20 minutes of their America East Conference tournament first-round game, spotting Northeastern a bulky halftime lead and never fully recovering in a 71-63 loss.

An 18-2 first-half run by Northeastern and Towson's 32-percent shooting in the period poisoned any hopes for an upset despite the Tigers' best efforts after halftime. Towson carved the Huskies' lead to three points in the final minutes, then turned over the ball on four straight trips in the last 54 seconds to finish it.

"It's unfortunate that we dug ourselves the hole that we did," said Towson head coach Ellen Fitzkee, who concluded her 13th season with a 3-25 record. "It seems that's been our M.O. most of the season, unfortunately.

"But I was very proud of the way we came back in the second half."

Northeastern (13-15), the seventh seed, sped away from the Tigers late in the first half. Lani Lawrence, an All-America East first-team selection, scored six of her team-high 20 points in an outburst that left the Huskies with a 44-27 lead at the break.

"I looked up and I think we were within seven, then all the sudden it jumped up to 17," Fitzkee said.

When Lawrence scored eight of Northeastern's first 10 points of the second half, it appeared Towson's harrowing trip from Balti- more - including three airports and a 5 1/2 -hour bus ride through a nor'easter - would be wasted.

But the Tigers responded, whittling at the deficit behind Jill McGowan, Faith Jones and Cherron Johnson. When McGowan, a senior from Midland, Md., drilled a baseline jumper with 1:38 to play, Northeastern's lead was just 66-63.

The Tigers had a chance for more, but McGowan lost the ball with less than a minute left, and Northeastern made five of six free throws in the final 43 seconds to earn a quarterfinal date with Drexel.

McGowan, who scored 1,942 points as a star at Westmar High School, ended her collegiate career with a game-high 22 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Mia Chapman added nine points, and freshman Jackie Richardson had eight points and 12 rebounds.

"We really would have liked to make a little more noise in the tournament," Fitzkee said. "But in terms of the freshman and the younger players we have, the adversity of this season will help us in the long run."

TOWSON-Wright 2-7 1-2 5, Jones 2-5 2-3 6, McGowan 9-20 3-4 22, Chapman 3-10 2-2 9, Richardson 3-4 2-3 8, Simpson 0-4 1-2 1, Forster 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 3-4 0-0 6, Smyth 2-4 0-0 4, Marriott 0-0 0-0 0, Russell 1-2 0-0 2, Conti 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-61 11-16 63.

NORTHEASTERN-Williams 0-2 4-6 4, Kowalski 1-9 2-2 5, DiMaria 4-7 0-2 8, Caruso 1-4 0-0 3, Lawrence 10-14 0-2 20, Gorham 1-2 0-0 2, Newsome 3-8 4-4 10, Harris 2-7 0-2 4, Clapp 0-0 0-0 0, Curtis 3-7 0-0 7, Jefferson 1-4 6-7 8. Totals 26-64 16-25 71. Half: Northeastern, 44-27. 3-point goals: T 2-14 (Chapman 1-4, McGowan 1-9, Simpson 0-1); N 3-13 (Curtis 1-3, Caruso 1-4, Kowalski 1-6). Rebounds: T 45 (Richardson 12); N 35 (DiMaria 8). Assists: T 11 (Chapman 5); N 16 (Caruso, Gorham, Kowalski, Williams 3). Total fouls: T 19, N 14. Fouled out: McGowan. A: 406.

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