Towson head coach Ali Brown knows basketball is a game of runs, so when the visiting Generals took a 16-6 lead over Lansdowne in the first quarter, he didn’t get overly confident.
But Lansdowne’s AJ McCho-Nji did, as his back-to-back three-pointers in a 48-second span sparked an 18-0 run and 24-16 lead on the way to a 73-52 victory.
The threes broke the ice after a cold shooting first quarter.
“One time we got five chances and didn’t get a bucket and when he hit those two threes it helped everybody relax,” Lansdowne coach Greg Karpers said. “We all got in the rhythm after that, so those two were big.”
The defense and leading scorer DaQuan Williams (game-high 26 points) took over after that and the Vikings (9-3) never looked back.
McCho-Nji’s first trey came with 1:30 remaining in the quarter after Towson’s Leroy Dillard and Kylie Gaspay each canned a pair of three pointers to build the 10-point lead.
“That’s the sign of a good team,” Brown said. “When you get hit in the mouth you’ve got to punch back.”
Karpers had called a time out after they fell behind 13-4 with 2:43 left.
“That’s the sign of a good coach,” Brown said. “He called a time out and chewed his guys out and he reminded them of who they are and they came out and played like they did.”
Williams got the message loud and clear.
Before the time out, he was scoreless, but he notched his first basket with 2:10 left and scored 24 points in the final three quarters.
“Coach told us we needed to play defense and put our hands up so we just had to work with each other and play hard,” Williams said. “We were a little down so we had to step our game up and get our heads back in the game.”
Williams converted a steal into a fast-break bucket for a 17-16 lead with 38 seconds gone in the second quarter and the Vikings never trailed again.
McCho-Nji (17 points), Kyndell Overton (12), Kevin Parrish (10), Greg Scarborough (5), and Antoine Jones (3) contributed to the scoring and also unleashed the Vikings' trademark pressure defense.
“They do a lot of screening and we tried to prepare for it and it took us a while to get through the screens and we lost them a couple times in that first quarter,” Karpers said. “Once we got to see it a lot we were able to adjust to it and we held them to five points in the second quarter.”
It was the second game in a row the Vikings went on a long run too massive to overcome.
“We played so great at Pikesville. We came out in the first quarter and led 18-2,” said Karpers, whose squad defeated Pikesville 73-40 two days earlier.
Brown knows his team’s strength is perimeter shooting, but would like to see more consistency in other areas.
“I’m never worried about our three-point shooting,” he said. “I’m just always worried about defense. We are not a very defensive-minded team and it shows. That’s how a lot of teams take advantage of us.”
Dillard led the Generals with 19 points and three treys while Gaspay (8 points) and Kevin Bartram (8) made two tree-pointers each.
But it wasn't enough to overcome Lansdowne's scoring run.
“It’s gonna happen. You go on a 16-6 run and it’s not going to stay around long,” Brown said. “We are a real young team so that’s something that we just have to work on. I could say it all day long, but until you go through a couple of these, it’s not going to work.”