UMBC beats Towson in battle of winless teams
Cook scores season-high 17 points in Retrievers' 62-58 win
UMBC guard Ryan Cook drives to the hoop against Towson. Cook scored a season-high 17 points. (Photo by Doug Kapustin / Special to The Baltimore Sun / December 10, 2011)
Something had to give, and guard Ryan Cook was bent on making sure it wasn't the Retrievers.
Cook scored a season-high 17 points, including several key foul shots down the stretch, as UMBC sprung free for a 62-58 win, ending a 13-game losing streak before an announced 986 at the Towson Center.
"We've been just working so hard to get this win out," Cook said. "It was very emotional."
UMBC (1-7) won the game at the foul line, hitting 20 of 26 overall, including 10 of 12 in the final 2:10. Towson (0-9), which now has lost 28 straight overall, made just eight of 25 from the stripe, and was 4-for-20 from 3-point range.
"I think our inexperience and lack of success showed, especially down the stretch," first-year coach Pat Skerry said. "People play zone [defense] because they want you to shoot the ball — that's third-grade stuff."
Trailing by two early in the second half, UMBC made its move, getting consecutive 3-pointers from Brian Neller and Quentin Jones as part of a 9-2 run that put the Retrievers ahead, 41-36.
They extended the lead to as much as seven before the Tigers rallied, pulling to within two on Marcus Damas' 3-pointer from the corner, then taking a 54-52 lead on a layup by Deon Jones after a block on the other end by Erique Gumbs.
But that's where the momentum ended for Towson, which was outscored 9-0 over the next 2:02, all from the line.
"I thought we did a commendable job, especially the last four minutes of the ballgame," UMBC coach Randy Monroe said. "We made some big plays and we knocked down some very, very big free throws."
Forward Chase Plummer had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Retrievers, while forward Robert Nwankwo paced the Tigers with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Both teams started slowly, with Towson jumping out to an early five-point lead when UMBC misfired on its first eight shots from the field.
The Retrievers led by a point late in the half, then went into the break on a high note when Cook raced back on defense to block Kris Walden's fastbreak layup attempt, and Neller followed with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give them a 30-26 lead at the break.