Cold shooting trips up Tigers

The Baltimore Sun

RICHMOND, Va. -- An early lead vanished and a late comeback fell short, a double dose of disappointment that ended the Towson men's basketball team's season in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament quarterfinals yesterday.

Virginia Commonwealth, playing several blocks from campus and urged on by a partisan crowd, played defense most effectively late in the first half and early in the second and prevailed, 57-46, at the Richmond Coliseum.

The defending CAA champion and top-seeded Rams (24-6) advanced to today's semifinals. Ninth-seeded Towson (13-18) has gone 12 years without reaching the semifinals.

The Tigers were undermined by 29.8 percent shooting from the field (17-for-57) and 37.5 percent shooting at the foul line (6-for-16).

"Our defense actually did an outstanding job," Towson coach Pat Kennedy said. "It was our offense that really hurt us."

Sophomore guard Josh Thornton's 13 points and junior forward Tony Durant's 12 points led Towson. Durant also had 15 rebounds.

"The thing we've hung our hat on all year is it starts on the defensive end," VCU coach Anthony Grant said. "If we could limit threes and prevent them from getting easy baskets, we thought we'd have enough success from an offensive standpoint to win the game."

Junior guard Eric Maynor, the CAA Player of the Year, scored a game-high 19 points for VCU.

Maynor's six assists were one more than Towson had as a team, another sign of the Tigers' offensive struggles.

Larry Sanders, VCU's 6-foot-9 freshman center, was just as troublesome for Towson, blocking four shots and recording career highs of 14 points and 15 rebounds.

Towson scored the first eight points of the game and led 17-10 after Thornton's three-pointer with 12:55 left in the first half. But the Tigers shot just 2-for-15 from the field the rest of the half, and VCU led 25-22 at halftime after Maynor made a three-pointer just before the buzzer.

That was part of a 14-0 VCU run that carried into the second half, in which Towson turned the ball over on six of its first eight possessions and fell behind 34-22.

But VCU made just one field goal in a 12-minute span, and Towson trimmed its deficit to 38-34 on Durant's hook shot with 6:33 left. VCU quickly restored its lead to double digits. Towson closed to 53-46 on Rocky Coleman's three-pointer with 1:03 left but didn't score again.

TOWSON-Pease 2-10 0-0 6, Raboin 0-1 0-0 0, Durant 5-12 2-4 12, Williams 1-6 1-2 4, Thornton 5-13 1-2 13, Crossin 1-3 0-0 2, Coleman 2-5 0-0 5, Carr 0-2 0-0 0, Kannegieter 0-0 0-0 0, Hairston 1-4 2-6 4, Nwankwo 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 17-57 6-16 46. VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH-Pishchalnikov 0-1 0-0 0, Anderson 1-4 2-5 4, Maynor 6-13 6-9 19, Rodriguez 1-5 1-2 3, Shuler 2-13 4-6 10, Sanders 6-7 2-4 14, Fameni 0-0 0-0 0, Rozzell 1-4 0-0 3, Ndongo 0-0 0-0 0, Kearse 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Gwynn 1-1 2-4 4, Nixon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-49 17-30 57. Half-V 25-22. 3-point goals-Towson 6-28 (Pease 2-8, Thornton 2-8, Coleman 1-2, Williams 1-5, Hairston 0-1, Crossin 0-2, Carr 0-2), V 4-23 (Shuler 2-9, Rozzell 1-4, Maynor 1-6, Rodriguez 0-4). Fouled out-Hairston. Rebounds-T 44 (Durant 15), V 41 (Sanders 15). Assists-T 5 (Pease 2), V 10 (Maynor 6). Total fouls-T 23, V 15. A-N/A.

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