Tigers can't rebound: Saint Joe's 2nd-half surge, advantage on boards too much

Saint Joseph's Men 85 Towson 64

December 10, 2008|By Bill Ordine | Bill Ordine,bill.ordine@baltsun.com

After keeping quicker Saint Joseph's within hailing distance in the first half, Towson saw the Hawks go on an offensive roll after the break and fell, 85-64, in a nonconference game last night at Towson Center.

The Atlantic 10 visitors flashed their transition game and asserted themselves in the paint to go on a 25-12 run through the first 8 1/2 minutes of the second half to build a 20-point lead. After that, the game was never in doubt, as Towson dropped to 4-5 (0-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association) and Saint Joseph's evened its record at 4-4.

The Hawks were led by 6-foot-9 Ahmad Nivins, who nearly had his sixth double double of the season, scoring 25 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Towson 6-8 senior Junior Hairston had 16 points.

"We played well for 18 of the first 20 minutes, and in the final two minutes [of the first half] we made two or three not really smart plays that put us in position where we had to come out of a seven-point hole" 38-31 at halftime, Towson coach Pat Kennedy said. "Then we had a few turnovers, and they banged us really hard."

To open the second half, Saint Joseph's stole the ball from Towson's Robert Nwankwo and the Hawks' Darrin Govens pushed the ball to teammate Garrett Williamson, leading to a dunk by Nivins.

Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli called Govens' key pass a "hockey assist."

"It opened up the faucet a little bit," Martelli said. "We had a number of advantage fast breaks the rest of that eight-minute period."

The Hawks dominated the boards, out-rebounding Towson 40-22. Kennedy said the Tigers' rebound numbers were "astonishing," the lowest for a Division I team he has coached in a 29-year career.

"I just thought we were much more advanced than what we showed tonight," he said.

"We just have to learn to get after the basketball better than what we are currently doing."

Nwankwo led Towson with five rebounds in just 22 minutes.

Hairston, the Tigers' senior leader, said rebounding is simply a matter of desire.

"You just got to want it," he said. "That's all it is. If you want it, you can get it."

Relying on three-pointers early in the game and scrapping with the Hawks inside, the Tigers never allowed Saint Joseph's to get ahead by more than seven points in the first half and last led at 17-14. But the trade-off for the feisty defense was at the foul line, where the Hawks made 13 of 15 free throws before halftime, including seven of seven by Nivins.

Towson resumes its nonconference schedule at High Point on Saturday.

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