NEWARK, Del. -- Throughout a long and arduous Towson basketball season, Marlin Wise has been able to sum up games with a few well-chosen words.
Wise did it again yesterday after top seed Delaware ripped apart the Tigers, 83-63, in the quarterfinals of the America East tournament before a record crowd of 5,209 at the Bob Carpenter Center.
"The only way to make this a close game would have been to put a lid on the basket for Delaware," said Wise without cracking a smile.
It seemed unfair the way an extremely talented Delaware team raised the level of its game against an outmanned Towson squad.
"We're playing so well that I told my staff I wished we could play until June," said Delaware coach Mike Brey, whose team has won 11 straight.
Delaware (23-5) virtually took Towson (6-22) out of the game in the opening minutes with an 11-0 run behind two John Gordon three-pointers and an intensive defensive effort that prevented the slower Tigers from even getting into their half-court offense.
Gordon and his backcourt mate, Tyrone Perry, went on to combine for eight three-pointers in the first half as Delaware raced to a 43-20 lead. The Blue Hens shot a red-hot 61.5 percent from three-point range in the first half and wound up tying a school record with 12 threes on 23 attempts. Gordon racked up a game-high 28 points and Perry had 21 in the rout.
Towson coach Mike Jaskulski said of Delaware: "They're playing as well as anybody has in this league in a long time. I think it all started with defense for them. We struggled just to move the ball on the perimeter."
So just why did the defensive-minded Tigers get torched for so many threes?
Jaskulski said his players "misunderstood a gray area" in which they were supposed to collapse on high-scoring Delaware forward Mike Pegues (22.0 points a game) and then jump back outside to defend the three-point shots.
"We were allowing Pegues to catch the ball too deep and had too far to go to stop the threes," said Jaskulski.
Pegues took advantage of the situation to throw the ball outside for four assists on threes in the first half and he never did get into the offensive flow of the game.
Pegues was held to nine points due to his unselfishness and some strong defense by Towson senior center Alphonso Hawes.
Hawes said, "The one thing I'll always remember about my last game is that I held Pegues to nine points. That was an individual accomplishment even though it hurts to lose."
Hawes endured a lot of losing in his farewell to Towson as the team set a school single-season record with the 22 losses.
In the final one yesterday, Hawes had a team-high nine rebounds and 10 points. Brian Barber led Towson with 14 and Josh Davalli continued his late-season surge with 11 points and three steals.
TOWSON -- Barber 5-10 4-6 14, Davalli 4-8 2-2 11, Hawes 5-9 0-0 10, Wise 2-6 1-3 5, De Pablo 3-6 0-0 9, Mauro 1-6 0-0 2, Cason 1-2 0-0 2, Holtz 0-5 2-2 2, Zenou 3-6 0-0 6, Hannon 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 25-59 9-13 63.
DELAWARE -- Pegues 3-10 3-6 9, Marciulionis 3-5 5-6 12, Bennett 1-1 3-5 5, Perry 8-13 1-1 21, Gordon 10-14 2-2 28, Mullen 0-1 0-0 0, Diouf 1-3 1-2 3, Miller 2-5 0-0 5, Arnold 0-0 0-0 0, Gonzalez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-52 15-22 83.
Halftime--Delaware 43-20. 3-point goals--T 4-15 (De Pablo 3-6, Davalli 1-3, Mauro 0-3, Wise 0-1, Cason 0-1, Holtz 0-1); D 12-23 (Gordon 6-9, Perry 4-7, Miller 1-3, Marciulionis 1-3, Mullen 0-1). Fouled out--Holtz. Rebounds--T 32 (Hawes 9); D 34 (Pegues 9). Assists--T 18 (Wise 6); D 16 (Pegues 4). Total fouls--T 20, D 17. A--5,209.
Pub Date: 2/28/99