Towson State introduced a new mascot last night, then the Tigers made like pussycats.
Lifeless for much of the game and minus senior stars Ralph Blalock and Scooter Alexander at the start, the Tigers were embarrassed when Hofstra posted an 83-63 North Atlantic Conference rout. It was Towson State's worst loss at the Towson Center since 1986.
Blalock, one of the top all-around players in the NAC, missed yesterday afternoon's shoot-around, and by the time he entered in the 14th minute, 11 other Tigers had already played.
Alexander, the Dunbar grad who's one of the program's top career scorers, came off the bench in the eighth minute after missing Monday's workout. Both blamed car problems for missing practice, and both rued a missed opportunity to impress a scout from the Denver Nuggets.
"Scooter and I not being there at the start doesn't explain everything," Blalock said. "We just didn't come out and play. We have the talent, but we weren't hitting the shots. Hofstra did. Give them credit."
Hofstra's 60.9 percent shooting was aided by uncontested dunks in transition and open jump shots.
The Flying Dutchmen (7-7, 4-4) out-hustled and out-thought the Tigers (9-6, 5-2) from the opening tap, which followed a mock ceremony in which the old Tigers mascot was put to rest while a funeral dirge played.
After a new-look Tiger was introduced, Towson State fell behind 18-9 in the first 10 minutes, got within five points once and then fell back again for good.
Coach Terry Truax had his regular starting five on the court to begin the second half, but the Tigers' zone was exposed during an 18-4 run by the Flying Dutchmen that buried the Tigers under a 63-35 deficit with 9:30 to go.
Towson State rallied and had a chance to get within nine with two minutes to go, but DeRon Robinson's three-pointer was as off as the rest of Towson's game. The Tigers bore little resemblance to the team that took Arizona and Maryland to the wire, and the one that is supposed to challenge defending NAC champion Drexel.
"Hofstra had a good game plan, and executed it," Truax said. "We had a plan, but the pieces were fragmented. I just asked the team to bring the pieces back together. Until we do, we're going to play well one night, and then turn around and have nights like this. It's disconcerting because we just came off two good wins on the road."
d,0 Working on a season-high four-game win streak, it was no way to start a three-game homestand. Alexander, who had worked his way out of a December shooting slump, was 2-for-9. Blalock and senior forward Stevie Thomas finished with 13 points apiece.
Jay Wright, Hofstra's rookie coach, was one of Rollie Massimino's assistants at Villanova and UNLV, and when he came back east, he brought along two Running Rebels. Seth Meyers and Lawrence Thomas combined for 29 points, and holdover Rob Ogden had a game-high 13 points.