Towson had gone more than two years without an overtime game, and it squirmed through the experience last night.
The Tigers had a four-point lead in the final minute of both regulation and the first overtime against Virginia Commonwealth, and acquiesced each time, as the Rams came back for an 84-80 double-overtime victory at the Towson Center.
Lack of stability at the point guard position contributed to a crushing defeat for coach Pat Kennedy's team, as Towson (6-6, 1-1) and VCU (10-3, 2-0) are among the teams jockeying for position behind Drexel in the Colonial Athletic Association.
"We have to learn how to handle time and score," Kennedy said, stating the obvious.
Gary Neal scored a game-high 36 points and had the Tigers' last seven, but he made costly ball-handling mistakes down the stretch, a charge with 57.7 seconds left in regulation and a turnover with 22 seconds remaining in the first overtime.
The last of Neal's six three-pointers gave Towson an 80-77 lead with 1:25 remaining in the second overtime, but the Tigers didn't score the rest of the way and B.A. Walker's three with 34.5 seconds left was the game-winning basket.
The Rams missed seven of eight free throws late in regulation until Jesse Pellot-Rosa forced the first overtime with a pair of free throws with 3.9 seconds left. Point guard Eric Maynor forced the second on a field goal with 8.5 seconds remaining.
Velmar Coleman had a shot to win at the end of the first overtime, and Neal had a chance to force a third, but his runner was short.
"Any loss is tough," said Neal, the CAA's leading scorer. "When you lose a home game, especially in the conference, when you have the lead and the ball ... "
Walker had 23 points and Pellot-Rosa 19. Maynor had 16 and 12 assists, as his play at the point trumped the Tigers' committee work there. With C.C. Williams weakened by an upper-respiratory infection that limited him to eight minutes, Kennedy tried Tim Crossin, Coleman and even Rodney Spruill at the point.
VCU, which had blown a 17-point lead at its Richmond home last Saturday, albeit against a tough Appalachian State team, was up 10 on the Tigers, but then Tommy Breaux blocked a jump shot and put in a breakaway dunk that ignited Towson.
VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH-Fameni 2-9 2-6 6, Anderson 2-4 0-0 4, Maynor 7-14 1-3 16, Walker 8-18 2-2 23, Pellot-Rosa 4-12 9-13 19, Coward 1-1 0-0 2, Ndongo 1-1 0-0 2, Shuler 2-8 4-4 10, Roland 0-1 0-0 0, Gwynn 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 28-71 18-28 84. TOWSON-Breaux 2-6 1-4 5, Abraham 5-7 4-8 16, Crossin 4-6 0-0 12, Coleman 0-4 4-6 4, Neal 11-27 8-11 36, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Spruill 0-3 1-2 1, Tubbs 3-4 0-0 6. Totals 25-57 18-31 80. Half-VCU, 25-20. End of regulation-58-58. End of 1st overtime-70-70. 3-point goals-VCU 10-26 (Walker 5-11, Pellot-Rosa 2-5, Shuler 2-7, Maynor 1-2, Gwynn 0-1), Towson 12-25 (Neal 6-15, Crossin 4-6, Abraham 2-2, Breaux 0-1, Spruill 0-1). Fouled out-Anderson, Breaux, Coleman. Rebounds- VCU 40 (Fameni 10), Towson 45 (Abraham 12). Assists- VCU 20 (Maynor 12), Towson 21 (Crossin 7). Total fouls-VCU 24, Towson 22. A-1,165.