This time, Tigers' rally falls short

No. 10-seed Georgia State withstands run, sends Towson to defeat in the first round

Georgia State 72 Towson 64

CAA men


RICHMOND, Va. -- For the third time this season, Towson University tried to rally to a victory over Georgia State. But last night, always playing from behind finally caught up to the Tigers.

The No. 10 seed in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament wasn't relinquishing the lead on this occasion, and seventh-seeded Towson absorbed a first-round, 72-64 defeat at the Richmond Coliseum.

Towson, which finished with a 12-16 record, twice came from behind during the regular season to defeat the Panthers, 66-62 and 70-69. This time, the Tigers cut the deficit to three points with 3:21 left in the game.

But Georgia State adjusted to Towson's ever-changing defenses and fought off the rally with key baskets by reserves Boyd Copeland and Lance Perique and two clutch free throws by its floor leader, 5-foot-9 Herman Favors, who hit five three-pointers in the first half and ended with 20 points.

"It was the same game we had the first two times. We had another terrific comeback and hung tough, but they made more shots," Tigers coach Pat Kennedy said. "At tournament time, it's how you shoot the ball; if you have a low percentage, you're in big trouble."

Towson shot 37 percent from the field, while Georgia State hit 48 percent.

Two factors conspired to make the third time the charm for Georgia State (7-21), which was making its first postseason appearance in the CAA and had lost seven straight games.

The Tigers' freshman starting guards, Tim Crossin and Velmar Coleman, went a woeful 2-for-16 from the field, and Gary Neal, averaging 27-plus points, returned from an absence of more than three weeks (injured foot) to contribute only 10. The Panthers' defense restricted his attempts and he appeared rusty.

"I've been just trying to blend in the last three days in practice," Neal said. "For the most part, I didn't feel any pain. I just left all I could on the court."

Said Georgia State coach Michael Perry: "Obviously, he couldn't go full speed. He's been shooting without a lot of defense, so we wanted to be aggressive with him."

After a free throw by Lawrence Hamm (team-high 22 points and 14 rebounds) gave the Tigers a 4-2 lead, Favors responded with his first three-pointer, and Georgia State never trailed again. The Panthers seemed to recover every loose ball in the first half, and Favors picked apart a Towson zone with his long-range shooting.

"Our kids played like guys who wanted to redeem themselves," Perry said. "Both times we played them earlier they walked off the floor thinking, `We should have won that game.' "

Said Kennedy: "It's tough to beat a team three times, and we're not good enough yet to get away from teams. But we have some top recruits coming and I expect us to be repositioned for this league next season. It's no longer a mid-major but getting close to being a major."

Only Hamm will be missing from the current cast. Neal returns, as does Dennard Abraham, who had 18 points and eight rebounds.

Georgia State advances to meet the co-champion of the regular season, George Mason, in tonight's quarterfinals.

GEORGIA STATE-Chase 1-4 0-0 2, Dickerson 3-4 4-4 10, Manier 4-11 1-2 11, Mendez 2-3 0-0 4, Favors 5-11 5-8 20, Perique 2-4 3-5 7, Copeland 4-9 2-4 10, McGrew 0-0 0-0 0, Billingslea 4-6 0-0 8. Totals 25-52 15-23 72. TOWSON-Pratt 2-3 0-0 5, Hamm 6-10 9-10 22, Abraham 7-14 3-5 18, Crossin 1-10 2-2 4, Coleman 1-6 0-0 3, Neal 3-10 2-4 10, Tubbs 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 21-57 16-21 64. Halftime-Georgia State 38-29. 3-point goals-Georgia St. 7-19 (Favors 5-8, Manier 2-8, Mendez 0-1, Copeland 0-2), Towson 6-20 (Neal 2-5, Pratt 1-1, Hamm 1-1, Coleman 1-3, Abraham 1-4, Crossin 0-6). Fouled out-Chase. Rebounds-Georgia St. 33 (Dickerson 7), Towson 37 (Hamm 14). Assists-Georgia St. 13 (Favors 7), Towson 13 (Coleman 5). Total fouls-Georgia St. 20, Towson 17. A-n/a.

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