Two teams going in opposite directions collided yesterday at the Towson Center and neither changed its path.
Towson State squandered a nine-point lead in the final five minutes and dropped its fourth straight game, 77-74, to a Northeastern squad on the upswing.
It was the second straight home loss in the America East Conference for the Tigers. Towson played without senior point guard Michael Keyes, whose absence because of the flu was noticeable.
Meanwhile, the Huskies came off a creditable performance at Delaware on Friday night when they led at the half and were tied with perhaps the league's best team with 12 minutes remaining before losing.
"We got a lot out of that game. It was a building point for us," said Northeastern's first-year coach, Rudy Keeling.
"For whatever reason, our team is dazed right now," said Towson coach Terry Truax. "It's tentative and that's the last thing we need to be. We need to be more aggressive."
Previously winless against a tough early schedule, Northeastern (1-5, 1-1) trailed, 66-57, after two free throws by Towson forward Derick Newton with 5: 10 to play.
Then a three-pointer by Chris Gordon launched a serious Huskies comeback and Rah-Shun Roberts put them ahead with 2: 07 remaining.
The sparse crowd of 479 then fell silent as Towson (2-5, 0-2) began lofting unwise shots, surrendering layups and failing to get the ball to Ralph Biggs, who had 17 first-half points but only three second-half shots.
A three-pointer by Florian Schneider had the Tigers within 75-74 before Northeastern broke defensive pressure to get Roberts open for a layup that put it away.
"Give Northeastern credit. We allowed them to stay in the game and they got confidence," said Truax. "They just had more alertness than we had the second half, maybe because of our foul situation."
The Tigers lost DaVonn Harp, who fouled out with 1: 20 remaining on a three-point play by Sylvester McIntosh that gave Northeastern the lead to stay. In addition, Ryan Lexer and Marlin Wise had four fouls apiece on a day when the bench was thin.
Towson was also guilty of 21 turnovers, seven by Lexer and five by Damon Cason, who shared the point with Wise in Keyes' absence.
"Obviously, Mickey Keyes means a lot to us," said Truax. "But Marlin and Damon are learning and I don't think we moved well without the ball in the second half."
McIntosh, just back from a knee injury, led Northeastern with 19 points and six assists while Newton garnered 21 points and seven rebounds for Towson.
Pub Date: 12/09/96