Towson again is out of its league in rout by G. Mason, 71-42

New to CAA, Tigers fall to 0-3, lack `talent to compete,' coach says

College Basketball

January 06, 2002|By Nathan Max | Nathan Max,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FAIRFAX, Va. - Towson University's rocky debut in the Colonial Athletic Association continued last night.

The Tigers shot 31 percent from the field and turned the ball over 19 times en route to a 71-42 blowout loss to George Mason before 3,066 at the Patriot Center.

In its first season in the CAA, Towson (4-9, 0-3) has lost its opening three conference games by an average of 30.3 points. The Tigers, who have lost five of their last six overall, fell to Virginia Commonwealth, 91-68, on Dec. 5 and lost to UNC-Wilmington, 76-37, on Dec. 30.

"There has been, obviously, not the talent present right now to compete in the CAA," Towson coach Michael Hunt said bluntly. "We've got to do a better job of recruiting, as well as we've got to do a better job as a team right now."

Said Towson leading scorer Sam Sutton, who was held to nine points on 4-for-15 shooting: "It's night and day compared to the America East. You're going up against a lot more physical guys and a lot bigger guys. It wasn't too often you'd see a 6-10 guy like [George Mason junior forward] Jesse Young, who can do the things he does, or like the guys at VCU. It's definitely a big difference."

Two bright spots for the Tigers were senior forward Kerry Augustus and freshman center Derrick Goode. In reserve roles, Augustus led Towson with 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting, and Goode had a career-high 10 points on 3-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 on free throws despite his unconventional form that starts with a squat.

But as a team the Tigers shot 18-for-58 (31 percent) from the field, including 1-for-12 behind the three-point arc, and were out-rebounded 46-33.

"In order for us to be competitive in this league, we're going to obviously have to get stronger and do a better job of taking care of the ball," said Hunt, whose team's 19 turnovers fell short of its season average of 21.5 per game. "The thing I've seen so far with Wilmington, VCU and Mason is they have bigger, stronger guys than we do."

Junior forward Jon Larranaga scored a game-high 20 points, Young had 18 points and eight rebounds and freshman guard Lamar Butler added 14 points, including 4-for-6 on three-pointers, for George Mason (8-4, 2-1), which won its second straight.

The Tigers fell behind immediately and never recovered. Towson turned the ball over on five of its first seven possessions and missed nine of its first 10 shots as the Patriots scored the game's first 11 points and opened an 18-2 lead with 12:39 remaining in the first half. The Tigers came no closer than 14 points the rest of the way.

"We've had a tough time starting all year," Hunt said. "I've seen us improve over the last week and a half of practice, so I was a little surprised by our slow start. I thought it went back to the fact that Mason is just a bigger, stronger team. And for the guys that are returning off this team from last year, it's a lot different than the America East."

TOWSON-Blanks 2-4 0-0 4, Sutton 4-15 0-0 8, Shin 0-2 0-0 0, Reaves 1-4 0-0 2, Weatherspoon 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 1-12 0-0 2, Dixon 0-0 0-0 0, Goode 3-6 4-4 10, Augustus 6-8 0-0 12, Dotson 1-6 1-2 4. Totals 18-58 5-6 42. GEORGE MASON-Larranaga 6-6 6-8 20, Young 5-12 8-10 18, Anderson 3-9 0-0 6, Heinen 1-5 0-0 2, Butler 5-12 0-0 14, Franklin 0-4 1-2 1, Tynes 0-0 0-2 0, Wyatt 2-3 0-2 4, Nixon 3-8 0-0 6, Cooper 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-59 15-24 71.

Halftime-George Mason 34, Towson 19. 3-Point Goals-Towson 1-12 (Dotson 1-3, Sutton 0-1, Reaves 0-3, Allen 0-5), George Mason 6-14 (Butler 4-6, Larranaga 2-2, Heinen 0-1, Wyatt 0-1, Anderson 0-4). Rebounds-Towson 33 (Sutton 9), George Mason 46 (Heinen 9). Assists-Towson 13 (Reaves, Allen 4), George Mason 15 (Heinen 4). Total fouls-Towson 16, George Mason 11. A-3,066.

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