Towson women fall short

JMU's 3 with 6.2 seconds to go wins in CAA, 63-61

College Basketball

March 11, 2004|By Paul White | Paul White,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NORFOLK, Va. -- The Towson women's basketball team found itself within seconds of ending two months of frustration last night and launching an improbable postseason run.

Instead, the season is over, and the frustration lives on.

Jody LeRose's three-pointer with 6.2 seconds remaining lifted James Madison past the Tigers, 63-61, in a Colonial Athletic Association first-round thriller at Old Dominion University's Constant Center.

The 10th-seeded Tigers (9-19) came in having lost six in a row and 17 of their past 18. But they bore no resemblance to a CAA doormat in this one. Buoyed by accurate three-point shooting and the all-around brilliance of second-team All-CAA guard Kacy O'Brien, the Tigers controlled things most of the way, then took a 61-60 lead with 21 seconds left.

"I thought we did everything we were supposed to do to give ourselves a chance to win," Tigers coach Joe Matthews said.

Everything, that is, except contain JMU's Lesley Dickinson. The CAA's Rookie of the Year shot a miserable 3-for-20 from the field. But she consistently broke down the Tigers' defense off the dribble. And with JMU down to its last possession, she managed to do it again.

With two defenders jumping out at her, Dickinson split the trap at the top of the circle, drove through the lane and kicked the ball to a wide-open LeRose, whose shot from the right baseline settled gently into the net.

"I always feel like I'm going to make them," LeRose said. "Lesley made a great play. I just yelled "Ball!" and she found me."

O'Brien had one last chance to rescue the Tigers, but her off-balance runner fell short as time expired. Playing despite gimpy knees, she led the Tigers -- who were 3-for-7 from three-point range -- with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

"We feel fortunate to come away with a win tonight," Krystal Brooks said. "Towson did an excellent job."

The Tigers are the CAA's poorest rebounding team, though, and this deficiency hurt them badly: They were out-rebounded 48-34.

Even so, the Tigers were in position for the upset, and that's been a familiar situation. Matthews said it was the 14th time in 19 games the Tigers have either had the lead or been within one possession of taking the lead in the second half. Towson won just one of those.

"We're taking baby steps," said Matthews, who noted that Towson's nine victories were one more than the team's win total in the previous three seasons combined. "We accomplished a lot this season. The future is extremely positive."

TOWSON--Spasowaka 2-6 0-0 5, Robinson 2-7 2-2 7, Rose 3-4 0-0 7, Harris 3-12 4-4 13, O'Brien 5-12 4-7 15, Talbot 4-11 1-2 9, Stimac 0-1 0-0 0, Hopkins 2-3 1-2 5, Fazlic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-56 12-17 61.

JAMES MADISON--Dickinson 3-20 9-10 15, Alexis 7-10 2-5 16, Dobbins 2-3 0-0 4, Felix 1-4 0-0 2, Culbertson 1-2 2-2 4, Benvenuto 0-2 0-0 0, LeRose 4-10 0-1 12, McCall 4-10 2-2 10, Brooks 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 22-62 15-22 63.

Half--Towson, 32-27. 3-point goals--Towson 7-21 (Rose 1-2, O'Brien 1-2, Harris 3-8, Spasowska 1-4, Robinson 1-4, Talbot 0-1); James Madison 4-14 (LeRose 4-8, Felix 0-1, Culbertson 0-1, Dickinson 0-4). Fouled out--Talbot. Rebounds--Towson 34 (O'Brien 14); James Madison 48 (Alexis 19). Assists--Towson 17 (Talbot 4); James Madison 10 (Felix 4). Total fouls--Towson 18; James Madison 17. A--N/A.

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