LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Any notions that Towson State is leaving the Big South Conference because it thinks it's better than the rest of the league were put to rest last night at the Vines Center.
Charleston Southern's Eric Burks lived up to his conference Player of the Year award by scoring 27 points as the Buccaneers drilled the Tigers, 85-55, in the opening round of the Big South tournament.
Towson, which ended its season with a 12-15 record despite wins over West Virginia and Louisville, will join the North Atlantic Conference next season.
"It's a shame that we have to leave the conference on this note," said Tigers coach Terry Truax. "I think we've represented ourselves better than we showed tonight as a member of the Big South."
Burks, a transfer from Clemson, was the biggest thorn in the Tigers' side. In addition to his game-high point total, the 6-foot-3 guard grabbed eight rebounds and spent most of the night shutting down Towson guard Ralph Blalock, who missed 10 of his first 11 shots en route to a 10-point evening.
"Eric showed tonight what a complete player he's become," said Charleston Southern coach Gary Edwards. "He came here known as a scorer, and now he's developed into a complete player."
The Bucs (17-10) gained momentum at the close of the first half when, with Charleston leading 36-29, Blalock drove for a layup and had the ball slapped away. The officials did not call a $H personal foul, but slapped Blalock with a technical for his reaction to the noncall.
CSU's Brett Larrick then hit one of the free throws and Burks followed with a driving layup as time ran out to give Charleston Southern a 39-29 lead.
"That was a huge swing because of the momentum," Truax said. "I asked the officials what [Blalock] said and they said he didn't say anything; it was his reaction. I don't understand that. It's a pretty feeble call."