NEWARK, Del. -- Fiery Towson senior forward Alphonso Hawes said what no one else wanted to say last night after the Tigers turned back Boston University, 71-58, in a first-round America East tournament game.
"Boston looked like it wanted to go home early," Hawes said. "We wanted to stay another day. We wanted it more than they did."
Terriers coach Dennis Wolff and a few of his players showed exactly how eager they were to get out of the Carpenter Center when they started walking toward the Towson bench for post-game congratulations with five seconds still on the clock.
Boston (9-18) entered the season as a third-place pick in the America East and seemed to be embarrassed to be one of four teams playing in the first round.
Even though Hawes fouled out with 10: 01 left, he was the inspirational leader for Towson (6-21), which finally came to life in the second half last night to win its first game in more than a month.
No one could have predicted the kind of determined performance ninth-seeded Towson put on in the second half to overwhelm eighth-seeded Boston U.
The Tigers had lost nine straight games and took a 28-20 lead into the intermission despite shooting 33 percent.
Starting forward and leading scorer Brian Barber and backup point guard Damon Cason both were limping at halftime on sprained ankles and several Towson players were in foul trouble.
It certainly looked as if the Tigers were a team on the brink of elimination if the Terriers could mount any kind of second-half effort.
But it was the Tigers who began breathing a little fire for one of the few times this season, putting on something of a clinic in the second half.
Marlin Wise started to hit some key three-point shots after a horrendous first-half shooting effort.
Pete Mauro and Josh Davalli came to life from the outside and suddenly Towson was on a roll.
Not even another sprained ankle -- this time by Wise -- and two players fouling out in the second half could stop this Towson march to victory.
Wise went down hard on the ankle with 6: 30 left, but came back after 35 seconds to play the rest of the game, and Hawes and Guy Zenou fouled out with more than 10 minutes remaining.
"In my 22 years of coaching," said Towson coach Mike Jaskulski, "this is one of the guttiest if not the guttiest performance I've ever seen by one of my teams."
The reward for the victory is a date with top-seeded and strong tournament favorite Delaware (22-5, 17-1) today in the 2: 30 p.m. quarterfinals.
"We're right where we want to be," said Jaskulski bravely. "When I looked down the bench with 10 minutes left tonight, there were not a lot of bodies there healthy or not. But we'll show up for Delaware and take our chances."
When Wise was asked how he came right back to play after writhing in pain for a few minutes on the floor, he said, "The game wasn't over. I'll be there for Delaware."
Wise had 10 points and seven assists in the victory, but it was sixth man Mauro who led Towson in scoring with 14.
Mauro was driven hard into the basket support by Boston's Billy Beal with 4: 15 left, but Mauro got up and hit two free throws for a 67-53 lead.
It was just one of the many shows of courage by a much-maligned Towson team last night.
Davalli, a sophomore walk-on from Cardinal Gibbons, stunned the Terriers with a game-high nine rebounds to go along with 10 points, two assists and one steal.
The 6-foot-6 forward was definitely at his best under tournament pressure and could be on his way to getting a scholarship.
"It would be great," said Davalli. "It was just a lot of fun to see us play with emotion, shoot well and rebound."
Towson ended a seven-game losing streak to Boston U. and is now 4-0 in opening games in the America East tournament.
Pub Date: 2/27/99