If it's Towson State and Loyola College, it's supposed to be close.
Before last night, the past seven games between these neighboring rivals had been decided by a total of 32 points. The margin in 11 of the last 13 had been no more than 10 points. They always seem to be nip and tuck.
This one was more like seek and destroy for Towson State until midway through the second half, when Loyola slowly began to cut into what had been a 59-35 lead. The Greyhounds got it down to five with 51 seconds left, but the Tigers came away an 89-84 winner before 1,043 at the Towson Center.
The Tigers made only seven of 19 shots in the second half, but were 23-for-32 from the line. Their last basket came on a three-pointer from the corner by senior guard Michael Keyes with 2: 40 remaining that increased their lead to 82-72.
Loyola (2-3), which received 29 points from junior guard Mike Powell and 20 from senior forward Anthony Smith, again was denied its 1,000th victory. Towson State (3-5), behind a career-high 17 points from freshman guard Damon Cason, ended a four-game losing streak.
"Thank goodness this wasn't a pro game with 48 minutes," said Towson State coach Terry Truax. "At the rate they were going, they would have overtaken us."
How could a team coming off Sunday's home embarrassment to then-winless Northeastern, when it squandered a nine-point lead in the last five minutes, build a 50-30 halftime lead over the Greyhounds?
For starters, Towson State made 19 of 27 first-half shots, including 11 of its first 12, to storm ahead, 50-30. During that time, the frontcourt of Ralph Biggs, Derick Newton and DaVonn Harp was a combined 11-for-13.
The biggest lift, however, might have come at the guard position, a sore spot for the Tigers since senior Keyes came down with the flu last week. Keyes didn't start again last night, but he played 19 minutes and had eight points, four assists and three steals.
"I'm feeling a little better, but I'm still trying to get my wind back and get the fluid out of my chest," he said. "Coach just told me to go as long as I can and do whatever I can."
It also helped Towson State that Cason and freshman guard Marlin Wise (nine points, five assists) shot better than in the previous games when Keyes was ailing.
"It was big that Marlin came out and hit his first two perimeter shots. The whole team built on that," Truax said.
Loyola committed 14 turnovers in the first half and didn't lead after Newton (14 points) made a three-pointer to move the Tigers in front, 15-13. It also didn't take full advantage of Biggs (14 points), Towson State's leading scorer, picking up his fourth foul early in the second half.
The Greyhounds did make a game of it, though. They were 20-for-38 from the field in the second half and used a tenacious press to get back into contention, forcing turnovers and scoring in transition.
"The kids just started to play hard," said coach Brian Ellerbe.
Powell scored 21 of his points in the second half, including nine in the last 4: 15. He hit his head on the floor during a scramble for a loose ball late in the game and was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital after complaining of dizziness.
LOYOLA -- Smith 7-12 5-11 20, Hurd 4-9 0-0 8, Platt 1-2 1-4 3, Powell 11-21 7-7 29, Rowe 4-8 1-2 10, Langley 0-0 0-0 0, Kelly 3-9 3-7 10, Johnson 1-2 0-0 2, Cooper 0-2 2-4 2. Totals 31-65 19-35 84.
TOWSON STATE -- Biggs 5-7 4-4 14, Newton 5-5 2-6 14, Harp 3-5 1-2 7, Wise 3-4 1-2 9, Schneider 2-7 1-4 6, Grey 0-0 0-0 0, Keyes 3-5 0-0 8, Cason 3-8 9-10 17, Lexer 2-5 10-11 14. Totals 26-46 28-39 89.
Halftime--Towson State 50, Loyola 30. 3-point goals--Loyola 3-13 (Rowe 1-3, Smith 1-2, Kelly 1-4, Powell 0-3, Cooper 0-1), Towson State 9-20 (Newton 2-2, Wise 2-3, Cason 2-5, Keyes 2-5, Schneider 1-6). Fouled out--Kelly, Cooper, Biggs. Rebounds--Loyola 38 (Hurd 10), Towson State 31 (Harp 6). Assists--Loyola 15 (Rowe 4), Towson State 21 (Wise 5). Total fouls--Loyola 28, Towson State 30. A--1,043.
Pub Date: 12/11/96