Mount St. Mary's and Towson State's women's basketball teams got into the spirit of the season early last night.
Both took turns giving each other chances to take control of an evenly played match, before the Mountaineers finally claimed a 73-69 win over the Tigers at Towson Center.
The Mount erased a two-point halftime deficit, then led by as much as six, before holding off Towson at the end.
"It's early in the season and Towson always plays us tough," said Mount coach Bill Sheahan. "I thought we showed some poise down the stretch, but it's early and we have a long way to go."
Ultimately, the Tigers (1-1), who played without junior guard Megan Gebbia, who sprained her ankle in practice over the weekend and watched the game in street clothes, failed to capitalize on breaks handed to them by the Mount.
For instance, Towson missed seven of 12 free throws on the evening and wasted fine performances by senior forwards Danielle Barry (22 points, 10 rebounds) and Shannon Ward (16 points).
RF Ward hit a three-pointer with 1:12 left to cut the Mount's lead to
four points. The Towson defense then forced a 30-second shot )) clock violation on the next possession to get the ball back, but Mountaineer forward Susie Rowlyk poked away a pass intended for Barry with less than 20 seconds left and the Mount dribbled the clock out.
Mount St. Mary's broke a 46-46 tie with a 13-5 run midway through the second half, fueled by sophomore reserve center Allyn Lewis, who had 14 points before leaving with a shoulder injury.
"We got that lead thanks to Allyn," said Sheahan.
The Tigers controlled the tempo in the first half, moving the ball around the perimeter crisply and mixing presses and traps effectively on defense to slow down the Mountaineers and force 10 turnovers.
Towson State neutralized the Mountaineers' height advantage to draw even on the boards, thanks largely to Towson's Eileen Jensen, who had eight offensive rebounds.