Towson holds off Loyola

Neal's 33 points, Williams' heroics ensure victory

Towson 70 Loyola 62

January 16, 2007|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN REPORTER

The fans who filed into Reitz Arena last night expected an offensive show from two of the nation's top seven scorers, and they got what they wanted from Towson University senior guard Gary Neal and Loyola junior guard Gerald Brown.

But, on a night when the visiting Tigers started strong and never trailed, it was Towson junior guard C.C. Williams who delivered the final blows that put away the Greyhounds, 70-62, before 2,842.

Williams, 6 feet 1, stood tallest in the last minute, as Towson (8-9) stopped a 1-4 slide by beating its nonconference rival and ending a four-game winning streak by Loyola (9-7). With the Tigers holding a 63-59 lead, Williams made four free throws and stole the ball twice in the game's final 62 seconds.

After making both ends of a one-and-one with 1:02 left, Williams stole the ball from Brown near midcourt, got fouled, then cashed in another one-and-one to make it 67-59 with 49 seconds left. Ballgame.

"I haven't really stepped up all year, and I felt like I needed to step up. I always know I've got G. Neal on my team," said Williams, who finished with 13 points, five assists, three steals and two turnovers, and spent chunks of his 37 minutes defending Brown.

While Brown tired down the stretch and finished with 26 points on 9-for-24 shooting and missed six of 10 free throws, Neal, the nation's fifth-leading scorer, delivered once again. He finished with a game-high 33 points, including 13-for-16 at the foul line. Neal did not turn the ball over in 35 minutes.

"This was a game where we knew we had to come out ready to play from the tip," said Neal, whose 16 first-half points pushed the Tigers to an early 30-18 lead and a 34-31 advantage at the half.

Brown, guarded for about half the evening by Neal, pulled the Greyhounds into a 37-37 tie with 16:35 left in the game on a dazzling reverse layup, but the Tigers were too sound, too composed and hustled too much to let this one get away.

"We understood time and score. Every time [Loyola] made their run, we never broke," Towson coach Pat Kennedy said. "This was a very important win for us."

Over the next five minutes, Neal banked in a 10-footer and hit back-to-back three-pointers to stake Towson to a 49-38 lead with 11:42 left. Later, after Loyola had pulled to within 53-49, Neal followed his miss by snatching the ball from two Greyhounds defenders and making a layup to make it 55-49 with 4:21 to go.

Loyola got no closer than four points after that.

"I saw a little bit of hesitation in our team. Towson was ready for us," Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos said.

That was obvious during a first half in which Towson mostly outworked Loyola at both ends and handled the ball much better. At one point, Patsos angrily called a timeout after the Tigers scored on a dunk off an inbounds lob to take a 26-16 lead with 7:24 left.

The Greyhounds apparently got the message. During the last six minutes, Loyola put together an inspired 13-4 run to cut the margin to 34-31 at halftime. Sophomore guard Marquis Sullivan, who had 14 points, sparked the run with back-to-back threes to cut the Towson lead to 30-24 with 2:53 left.

Loyola then stopped Towson on five straight possessions, got as close as 30-28 on a layup by junior forward Omari Isreal with 1:40 left, then made the most of the last shot. Brown, who had been quiet since making two foul shots with 6:58 to go, made a three from the top of the key with three seconds left.

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

TOWSON-Breaux 1-3 0-0 2, Abraham 4-10 2-2 10, Williams 4-7 5-6 13, Neal 9-15 13-16 33, Pease 2-5 0-0 5, Crossin 0-1 0-0 0, Coleman 0-0 0-0 0, Spruill 1-3 0-0 2, Tubbs 1-8 2-2 5. Totals 22-52 22-26 70. LOYOLA-Isreal 3-5 2-2 8, Alujevic 1-5 0-0 2, Brown 9-24 4-10 26, Harvey 2-5 2-2 6, Sullivan 5-8 0-0 14, Manning 1-1 1-1 3, James 0-2 0-0 0, Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Tuck 0-3 3-5 3. Totals 21-53 12-20 62. Half-Towson, 34-31. 3-point goals-Towson 4-16 (Neal 2-6, Tubbs 1-1, Pease 1-4, Crossin 0-1, Abraham 0-1, Spruill 0-1, Williams 0-2), Loyola 8-19 (Sullivan 4-6, Brown 4-10, Alujevic 0-1, Harvey 0-1, Tuck 0-1). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Towson 35 (Tubbs 8), Loyola 33 (Isreal 6). Assists-Towson 11 (Williams 5), Loyola 10 (Brown 3). Total fouls-Towson 18, Loyola 18. A-2,842.

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