Intense pressing defense and hot early shooting from Aaron Mekonen staked Catonsville to a big lead and the host Comets never let off the gas pedal, cruising to a 69-46 victory over Towson on Wednesday night.
Catonsville (4-4) forced 10 first-quarter turnovers and got three 3-pointers in the first 6:20 from Mekonen.
“He’s good for at least two in the first quarter,” Catonsville coach Evan Dougherty said.
Mekonen hit all three from the same left corner pocket. The first one gave the Comets a 3-0 lead 32 seconds into the game and the third extended the lead to 19-3 late in the first quarter.
“My teammates just found me and I just felt comfortable and they allowed me to play great, so I was happy and I delivered for them,” said the senior, who led the Comets with 16 points.
Senior Relly Jones provided a huge spark when he came into the game for injured starting point guard Bryan Ruppel with 6:24 left in the quarter and had four steals in his first three minutes to go with four points.
He finished with 12 points and Tariq Martin (11) also scored in double figures for the Comets, who had nine players score in the game.
Towson (5-5) struggled against the press and didn’t get its first field goal until a layup by Michael Stamatos with 1:10 left in the first quarter.
“We strive to play hard and play with the mentality that we are going to play for each other and that’s all about defense,” Mekonen said. “Defense is all just playing together as a unit and if those guys all in there do that I’m just happy to be a part of it and do it with them.”
That defense held the Generals to just four field goals in the first half as the Comets led 30-15 at intermission.
Towson abandoned its 2-1-2 zone in the second quarter and held the Comets to 11 points, three on a trey from Romhai Getachew.
“We didn’t move well in the zone and after the second or third 3, I said we’ve got to go man and I think that helped a little bit,” Towson coach Tim Sinkler said. “That’s a very good disciplined team, so I’ve got to give them credit as well.”
Catonsville stretched the lead to 54-24 after three quarters using the same formula of pressure defense and strong shooting.
Mekonen had seven points and Michael Owens hit two treys to extend the lead and the Comets forced six more turnovers and held the Generals to just three field goals in the quarter.
“Our number one ‘MO’ is pressure defense, turn you over and run,” Dougherty said. “In order for us to be successful our defense has to be our offense a lot and we need to be that tough scrappy team.”
Towson scored 22 points in the final quarter, led by seven points from Joseph Jackson and six from Louis Genus, and the Comets rested their starters, similar to what they enjoyed last week in a 66-33 win over Eastern Tech.
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“They were both similar games where we got up big and we were able to get the bench in towards the end of the game,” said Dougherty, whose squad was coming off a 49-43 loss to Lansdowne on Tuesday. “It was a great effort. I am really proud of them and how hard they played tonight, super hard and they shot well.”
Towson lost its third straight game and was playing without forward Henry Brown (sprained wrist), who averages 14 points a game.
Aaron Mekonen 16, Relly Jones 12, Tariq Martin 11, Michael Owens 8, Isaiah Coles 7, Dominic Brogdon 5, Ethan Gutberlet 4, Brian Ruppel 3, Romhai Getachew 3.
Joseph Jackson 10, Louis Genus 10, James Anderson 8, Juan Austin 5, Elliott Genus 5, Roan Britania 4, Michael Stamatos 3, Caton Summers 1.
Halftime: 30-15 Catonsville