Towson fades late, falls to UNC-Wilmington

Leading at half, Tigers unable to pull upset, 56-46

College Basketball

January 29, 2002|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,SUN STAFF

Humbled in its meeting with UNC-Wilmington earlier this season, the Towson men's basketball team appeared poised to exact revenge and pull off an upset in last night's rematch.

But the Tigers suffered a meltdown on offense in the second half and succumbed to the Seahawks, 56-46, before 903 at the Towson Center.

In a matchup pitting the first-place team against the last-place team in the Colonial Athletic Association, Towson (6-13, 2-7), which suffered a 76-37 defeat to UNC-Wilmington on Dec. 30, built a 31-28 halftime lead over the conference leaders on 12-for-21 shooting (57 percent) from the field.

It was just the third time this season that the Tigers had a halftime lead - and they had won the other two.

The Tigers, however, connected on just three of 25 shots (12 percent) from the field in the second half, and were outscored 13-1 after taking their last lead with 7:47 remaining. Towson did not make a field goal in the final 10:09.

UNC-Wilmington (13-7, 8-2) also struggled to find its shooting touch, going 23-for-60 (38 percent), but the Seahawks' defense bailed them out.

With the score tied at 45, UNC-Wilmington turned up the heat on its full-court press and scored three straight baskets off turnovers to take a 51-45 advantage with 3:37 left. The Seahawks then converted five of six free-throw attempts down the stretch to seal the victory.

"I think our effort is becoming more consistent, but we're not into moral victories," Towson coach Michael Hunt said. "We want to turn this program around and win games. But I couldn't be more proud of our guys for the competitive spirit they've shown."

Said UNC-Wilmington coach Jerry Wainwright: "Towson is much improved, and Mike has done a really good job with this team. We probably could have knocked them out early, but they hung in there and we made some mistakes, and to their credit, they fought right to the end."

Senior forward Ed Williams, who entered the game averaging 9.7 points and 5.8 rebounds, scored a game-high 18 points - including 12 in the second half - and grabbed a career-high 14 points to lead the Seahawks. CAA Player of the Year candidate Brett Blizzard added 17 points.

Point guard Brian Allen, who made just one field goal but was 10-for-13 from the line, paced Towson with 12 points.

The Tigers rallied from a 21-10 deficit midway through the first half to pull even at 24 with 3:35 left. They took their first lead, 26-24, on Allen's two free throws 40 seconds later.

Towson led by as many as six early in the second half, and despite its shooting woes, did not trail again until Craig Callahan's short hook put the Seahawks ahead 47-45 with 4:20 remaining.

UNC-WILMINGTON-Williams 6-12 6-7 18, Terrell 2-3 0-0 4, Callahan 3-12 0-2 7, Chapman 0-20-0 0, Blizzard 8-17 1-1 17, Coombs 1-4 0-2 2, Justus 0-0 0-0 0, Burnette 3-4 1 -2 8, Clifford 0-2 0-0 0, Hare 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 23-60 8-14 56. TOWSON-Blanks 0-7 1-2 1, Augustus 4-7 1-1 9, Shin 2-2 1-1 5, Allen 1-3 10-13 12, Sutton 4-12 1-6 9, Weatherspoon 1-8 1-1 3, Dixon 1-3 0-0 2, Goode 2-4 1-2 5. Totals 15-46 16-26 46.

Halftime-Towson 31, UNCW 28. 3-point goals-UNCW 2-15 (Burnette 1-1, Callahan 1-3, Clifford 0-1, Hare 0-2, Chapman 0-2, Williams 0-2, Blizzard 0-4), Towson 0-10 (Blanks 0-1, Allen 0-2, Sutton 0-3, Weatherspoon 0-4). Fouled out-Burnette. Rebounds-UNCW 41 (Williams 15), Towson 38 (Allen 8). Assists-UNCW 18 (Hare 5), Towson 10 (Allen 5). Total fouls - UNCW 20, Towson 16. A- 903.

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