If the Towson men's basketball team wished to re-emerge as a Colonial Athletic Association contender, Thursday night's home game against second-place College of Charleston qualified as a can't-miss opportunity.
The Tigers took advantage, relying on double-digit scoring from four different players to earn an 83-77 victory in overtime before an announced 2,076 at SECU Arena in Towson.
Towson improved to 13-9 overall and 5-4 in the league to continue its torrid run, winning its fifth straight game after losing its first four games in the conference. The team moved into a three-way tie for third place with Elon (13-9, 5-4) and Northeastern (12-9, 5-4), and ended a three-game losing skid to the Cougars.
"It's a big win because we had lost a couple close games to them, and we have great respect for their program," coach Pat Skerry said. "We want to keep getting better. We don't talk a lot about standings. We talk about trying to get better. … There's a lot of good teams in our league. That's why it's the 11th-best conference in the country. This was one I thought we needed to get."
Ten different Tigers scored with senior forward Arnaud William Adala Moto leading the way with 20 points and nine rebounds. Senior forward John Davis added 18 points and nine rebounds.
Junior guard Deshaun Morman finished with 16 points, three rebounds and three assists, while junior guard Brian Starr contributed 13 points and four rebounds.
Skerry pointed out that the distribution of points is nothing new. Nine different players have scored in double figures during the winning streak.
"It's the healthiest our program has been from top to bottom," he said. "Now it's just a matter of, can we keep it going? This is the time of year we need to keep it going."
Things looked bleak for the Tigers when the Charleston took a 70-64 lead into the final minute of regulation. But they chipped away with four straight free throws from Adala Moto.
Cougars guard Joe Chealey then missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Starr nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner off an assist from Adala Moto to give Towson a 71-70 lead with 21 seconds to go. On the ensuing play, Morman was called for a block, but after Chealey connected on his first free throw, he missed the second.
Adala Moto and Cougars junior guard Cameron Johnson each missed potential winning layups, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra session, the Tigers scored the first four points — all on free throws — and never relinquished the lead as they became the first opponent this season to reach the 80-point mark against Charleston.
Skerry called Starr's 3-pointer "the biggest shot of our season to date" — a play that was set up when Adala Moto grabbed the rebound off Chealey's missed free throw and immediately drove the lane in transition.
"It caught my eye that he was in the corner," Adala Moto said of Starr. "So I tried to drive to the rack, and I didn't have it. I kicked it to Brian for the shot."
Starr said he knew his shot was good as soon as the ball left his hands.
"I knew Moto was going to get it and push it," he said. "So I was just waiting for it in the corner. I'm glad he saw me."
Davis said the team used the four-game skid to open the CAA schedule as a reminder.
"It kind of burnt us a little bit," he said. "So we know how it felt. Tonight, we just didn't want to feel that again. So we just kept with our will, and everybody stayed together."
The Cougars (16-6, 7-2) lost for the second time in three games despite a game-high 25 points each from Chealey and redshirt freshman guard Grant Riller. The setback was also their first on the road since a 75-65 loss at LSU on Dec. 19.