Junior forward Jerrelle Benimon scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his NCAA-leading 16th doubledouble of the season as Towson evened its overall record at 12-12 with an 81-68 Colonial Athletic Association victory over UNC Wilmington (8-13, 3-6) at the Towson Center on Monday night.
The Tigers' second win in a row enabled them to reach the .500 mark at 12-12 overall, 7-4 in the conference. This is the Tigers' best 24-game record since 1995-96, when they had a 14-10 mark after 24 games.
The victory also enabled Towson to move into fourth place in the CAA standings with a 7-4 record. The Tigers' seven CAA wins are their most since they went 7-11 in league games five years ago.
Benimon, who shot 8-for-10 from the field, led the Tigers to their second-best shooting performance of the season. Towson made 30 of 57 shots from the field.
The Tigers, who never trailed in the second half, used an 11-0 run midway through the second half to put the game out of reach. With the Tigers leading by 54-48 with 12:45 remaining, junior Marcus Damas sparked the 11-0 run by scoring five points. That gave Towson a 65-48 advantage with 8:52 left to play.
Towson gradually extended its lead to 77-53 with 4:54 remaining on a layup by Damas, who scored 12 points, all in the second half.
The Tigers closed the first half with a 7-0 run that was capped off by a buzzer-beater by freshman guard Jerome Hairston that gave Towson a 42-32 advantage. Led by Hairston's 14 first-half points, the Tigers shot 57.1 percent from the field in the opening period.
Benimon was one of four Tigers to score in double figures. Hairston shot 7-for-15 from the field as he scored a career high 18 points while Damas added 12 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Junior guard Rafriel Guthrie came off the bench to add 14 points as he made four of five shots from the field, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range.
Senior Keith Rendleman led the Seahawks with 19 points and 12 rebounds. The loss was UNC Wilmington's third in a row. It also was the Seahawks' third consecutive loss to Towson. On Jan. 2, they dropped a 79-74 decision to the Tigers at home.
In a back-and-forth affair in which neither team was able to gain much breathing room, the edge was with Hampton, which has played nine consecutive games decided by seven points or fewer, winning six of them.
The inexperienced Eagles (5-19, 2-7 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) seemed to lose their cool down the stretch, as forward Patrick Cole was called for a technical foul with 6:09 remaining and leading scorer Michael Murray picked up two fouls in less than a minute, sending him to the bench with four fouls in a critical stretch of the contest.
Hampton (8-13, 5-3) took advantage as much as it could, going on a 12-4 run to open a 56-52 edge with 1:40 to play. Coppin State had several chances to narrow the margin, but Murray dribbled the ball off his leg and out of bounds to end a key possession, and then Powers weaved his way through the lane to seal the victory.
In the first half, both teams used the 3-pointer, which was expected for Coppin and somewhat surprising for Hampton.
Norfolk State 64, Morgan State 59: Pendarvis Williams scored 22 points, and the Spartans (14-10, 9-0 MEAC) won their eighth consecutive game.
Williams scored in double figures for the 11th consecutive game and drew closer to the 1,000-point milestone. He needs 17 more points to reach quadruple digits, which would make him the 30th Norfolk State player to do so.
Rashid Gaston added 13 points and four blocks for Norfolk State, which got 12 points from Brandon Goode.
DeWayne Jackson scored 18 points for Morgan State (6-13, 3-5). Anthony Hubbard added 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Justin Black had 12 points.
North Carolina Central 82, UMES 54: The Hawks (1-17, 1-6 MEAC) struggled against the visiting Eagles (15-7, 8-0) despite an 18-point, 10-rebound effort from Troy Snyder. UMES turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 32 points for the Eagles.
Morgan State 57, Norfolk State 48: A 13-point halftime lead was enough cushion to enable the Bears (7-15, 4-5 MEAC) to withstand a second-half rally by the visiting Spartans (3-17, 1-8).
Morgan State's Whitney Southerland scored all of her 14 points in just 15 second-half minutes.
Hampton 68, Coppin State 59: Leola Spotwood scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the host Eagles (9-14, 5-5 MEAC), but the Pirates still came out on top thanks to a 25-point effort from Olivia Allen.
Coppin State was limited to 26.7 percent shooting from the field and committed 22 turnovers.
UMES 72, North Carolina Central 53: With Shawnee Sweeney and Ashleigh Claybrooks scoring 17 points each, UMES (6-12, 2-5 MEAC) ended its four-game losing streak with a victory over North Carolina Central at the Hytche.
UMES improves to 2-5 in MEAC play and 6-12 overall.
Quinnipiac 78, Mount St. Mary's 55: Sydney Henderson and Tara Lonergan scored 10 points each, but it wasn't enough as the visiting Bobcats cruised past the Mount (9-12, 5-5 Northeast Conference).
Quinnipiac (19-2, 10-0) took the lead 13 minutes into the game and never looked back to earn its fifth straight win against Mount St. Mary's.
McDaniel 66, Swarthmore 52: Led by a balanced scoring attack in which three starters reached double figures, the visiting Green Terror (10-12, 7-10 Centennial Conference) doubled up their first-half lead on Swarthmore.
Steph Perez had a team-high 13 points for McDaniel.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun