One day, not long from now, this season will seem like nothing more than a foggy unpleasant memory to the Towson basketball team. With a highly touted recruiting class on the way and a state-of-the-art arena in the pipeline this program's better days surely lie ahead.
For now, however, the nightmare that is the 2011-12 season continues to fester, and the latest example was Wednesday's 66-49 loss to unheralded William & Mary before a small gathering at the Towson Center.
The Tigers (0-17, 0-5 Colonial Athletic Association) surrendered 16 straight points down the stretch in losing their 36th straight game, building on the Division I record for futility that they set Saturday. New Jersey Institute of Technology lost 51 straight late in the last decade, but that figure isn't recognized by the NCAA, since the team was in the midst of reclassifying to Division I.
The all-time NCAA record for consecutive belongs to Division III Rutgers-Camden, which lost 117 straight between 1992 and1997. While certainly a long way from that mark, Towson hasn't won since edging La Salle in overtime, 93-90, on Dec. 29, 2010.
And with games coming up against Georgia State, Old Dominion, George Mason and Delaware — four of the top teams in the CAA — this may have been the Tigers' best shot to break the streak for the foreseeable future.
First-year head coach Pat Skerry attributes his team's inability to pull out wins to his players' lack of experience at the collegiate level.
"A lot of our guys will play for 30 minutes, but at this level it's a 40-minute game," said Skerry, whose roster features just one letter winner from a year ago. "Those 32-minute high school games are over. We don't have a lot of subs — that is what it is … I'm going to sit here and say it — we've got to guard better. We can't win any shootouts. There are no 17-game shooting slumps. We are what we are."
Towson remained in contention until midway through the second half, erasing a seven-point deficit to tie the game at 42 on Marcus Damas' 17-footer with 11:05 left.
William & Mary (4-13, 2-3) scored the next 16 points, getting a pair of three-pointers from Julian Boatner and a three-pointer and three-point play from 6-foot-6 senior Quinn McDowell, as Towson failed to score for a span of 7:51. When the damage was done, the Tigers were behind, 58-42, with just under 4 minutes to play.
McDowell finished with a game-high 26 points, and Boatner had 12. Damas finished with 14 to lead the Tigers, who shot just 39 percent.
"We practice every day, and we kind of went away from it," Dumas said. "We have the tools and we have the right coaching, but we just didn't follow through with it."
Towson looked strong in the early minutes, building a 12-5 lead on Erique Gumbs' layup with 10:34 left in the half.
But after going up 14-8, the Tigers surrendered the next eight points. Then, after taking a 24-20 lead on Deyon Cooks' three-pointer, they again gave up eight straight to end the half.
Towson also hurt its cause by making just one of six free throws in the first 20 minutes and finishing 5 for 12 from the line.