Seahawks turn the tables on Tigers, escape with victory

February 12, 2010|By Ken Murray |

When Towson University coach Pat Kennedy got to Towson Center on Thursday morning, he found out junior forward Jarrel Smith was sick and could not play.

When UNC-Wilmington coach Brooks Lee got to Towson Center, he learned that junior guard Chad Tomko, two days off crutches for a sprained ankle, was good to go.

As omens go, it was as good a guide as anything that followed in Wilmington's 80-72 victory in a Colonial Athletic Association makeup game played before a scant crowd announced at 401.

Tomko, who didn't start, scored a game-high 22 points in 28 minutes, including the Seahawks' last seven points of the game, all at the foul line. The victory avenged a 58-53 Towson win in Wilmington, N.C., on Jan. 30. It was also the first win in four games for Lee, who became interim coach when the school reassigned Benny Moss in the wake of a 39-point loss at Hofstra on Jan. 27.

"It was tough on everyone when the change was made," Lee said. "But we fought through that and stayed together."

Thursday's game was a reversal of everything that happened when Towson beat Wilmington two weeks ago. The Seahawks hit only five of 24 shots from the arc in the first game; this time they hit 10 of 20. Wilmington's John Fields collected a school-record 22 rebounds the first time and lost; this time he had three and won.

Towson's 6-foot-8 Robert Nwankwo was responsible for shutting down Fields. Nwankwo was coming off a shoulder sprain the last time and played tentatively. This time, he was a force inside with 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

"He was outstanding," Kennedy said.

Nwankwo's layup off a pass from Brian Morris with 9:15 to play earned Towson a 57-57 tie. But a 13-4 Wilmington run sent the Tigers (6-18, 3-11) spiraling to another defeat. When Dominique Lacey finished the run with a layup and a dunk, it started a parade to the foul line, and the Seahawks (8-17, 4-10) hit 10 of 15 free throws to put the game away.

"You've got to give them credit in the way they converted," Kennedy said. "Tomko made some really good plays coming down the stretch. [Ahmad] Grant was well above his average and what you had was two of their guys were making plays and finishing, and we just did not. What hurt us more than anything was our lack of offensive productivity on a consistent basis."

Towson's defense wasn't all that sparkling, either. The Tigers couldn't get any stops from their man defense after the tie at 57, and their own poor 3-point shooting sealed the deal. Towson hit just four of 18 from the arc, including a 2-for-10 performance by senior guard Josh Thornton.

Calvin Lee (15 points) and Troy Franklin (14) also hit double figures for the Tigers, who handed out 23 assists and took six steals in the loss.

"Offensively, we weren't in it," Nwankwo said. "I think we came in thinking that we were going to get the 'W' and we were hesitant on the shots we took."

UNC-WILMINGTON-Rendleman 4-7 0-0 8, Fields 0-1 2-2 2, Jeralds 2-3 1-1 6, Wolf 1-4 5-6 8, Grant 7-15 1-2 18, Tomko 6-15 7-8 22, Lacy 4-5 1-3 10, Ohuaregbe 0-0 0-0 0, Felder 0-0 0-0 0, Deloach 2-5 1-4 6, Mercer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-55 18-26 80.

TOWSON-Nwankwo 5-5 5-7 15, Lee 7-12 1-3 15, Brown 4-6 0-0 8, Polk 3-7 0-1 6, Thornton 3-12 0-0 8, Philmore 3-6 0-0 6, Morris 0-3 0-0 0, Franklin 5-10 2-2 14. Totals 30-61 8-13 72.

Half-UNC-Wilmington 35-34. 3-point goals-UNC-Wilmington 10-20 (Grant 3-7, Tomko 3-7, Deloach 1-1, Jeralds 1-1, Lacy 1-1, Wolf 1-3), Towson 4-18 (Franklin 2-4, Thornton 2-10, Morris 0-1, Polk 0-3). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-UNC-Wilmington 32 (Rendleman 9), Towson 35 (Brown, Nwankwo 8). Assists-UNC-Wilmington 17 (Jeralds 5), Towson 23 (Franklin, Lee, Thornton 4). Total fouls-UNC-Wilmington 14, Towson 20. A-401.

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