Towson State continued its dash to the finish line yesterday by charging past Central Connecticut, 94-70, in an East Coast Conference basketball mismatch at the Towson Center.
The Towson State run has reached six straight victories, prompting talk of a possible bid to the National Invitation Tournament if the Tigers keep winning.
"I believe we will get an NIT bid if we finish 18-12," said Towson coach Terry Truax after the romp past the Blue Devils. "The NIT people haven't contacted us, but I'm sure we'll be receiving a questionnaire to fill out at the end of the season from them."
The Tigers improved their record to 10-11, with six regular-season games left and a possible three games in the ECC tournament.
Since the ECC tournament champion no longer gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, Towson State is looking toward the NIT.
Towson has made two straight NCAA tournament appearances, playing heavily favored Oklahoma and Ohio State tough before losing in the first round each year.
Truax said a strong finish is one of three things that could weigh in Towson's favor in receiving an NIT bid.
"If we go from 4-11 to 18-12 that would really mean a lot to the NIT committee," he said. "They like to see a team that has made a lot of progress."
Truax said the other two key factors for the Tigers are winning the regular-season ECC championship (Towson is 5-1 in the league, one game behind UMBC and Rider) and providing the NIT with a good first-round financial matchup.
"If we had a big arena to play the game in, I'm sure they would like to match us with Coppin State," Truax said. "That's the political angle."
Truax said all his players are hoping the team can continue to play after the ECC tournament is over.
"But I'm only interested in us playing if I think we deserve to keep on playing," said Truax.
Senior guard Terrance Jacobs, who led the Tigers yesterday with 28 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, said he believes a 17-13 record would earn an NIT berth.
"We've played some good teams this year close, like Colorado and North Carolina [both 10-point losses on the road] and that will help us," said Jacobs. "Plus we've played well the last two years in the NCAA tournament."
Yesterday, Jacobs and his teammates barely worked up a sweat against Central Connecticut, a team they had destroyed on the road, 93-54, two weeks ago.
Towson came out flat and fell behind, 13-9, in the opening minutes. But the Tigers quickly recovered for a 40-29 lead with 3 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the first half.
Even though Central Connecticut fought back to a 40-36 deficit at halftime, there never seemed to be much of a chance for the slower and less-talented Blue Devils to win.
Towson built a 81-51 lead with 5:43 left in the game, and Truax began clearing his bench.