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Towson's season ends with 74-69 overtime loss to Elon in CAA tournament opener

A pair of free throws with just under 20 seconds to play by junior Four McGlynn, who scored the Towson men's basketball team's final nine points, tied its opening-round game in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament at 62.

But a season in which the ninth-seeded Tigers struggled to win tight games — they went 4-12 in games that, with under five minutes remaining, featured a five-point margin either way — ended with yet another setback Friday, this a 74-69 overtime loss to eighth-seeded Elon at Royal Farms Arena in downtown Baltimore.

"Unfortunately for us, it was more of the same," Towson coach Pat Skerry said. "I think our kids' effort all year has been great. We're obviously just missing something."

McGlynn, the CAA's leading free-throw shooter (90.8 percent) in the regular season, made a pair to level the score at 62 with 19.9 seconds remaining.

Elon guard Austin Hamilton, who finished with 12 points, missed a 15-footer that would have won the game for the Phoenix in regulation just before the second-half buzzer.

But seven overtime points from Elon junior guard Tanner Samson helped keep Towson (12-20, 5-13 CAA) just out of reach, and sent the Phoenix (15-7, 6-12) to a quarterfinal matchup with top-seeded William & Mary (18-11, 12-6) at noon Saturday.

"They're tough as nails, and we're thrilled to be able to advance," Elon coach Matt Matheny said.

Just as in the teams' two regular-season meetings, which Towson won by a combined six points, offensive rebounding proved to be the difference. The Tigers had 11 first-half offensive rebounds, and entered the half down one.

But Elon held them to just four in a tense second half and overtime period, denying Towson second-chance points and keeping them from dominating the paint.

"I think that was the big difference in the game," Matheny said.

Another difference was his freshman guard Elijah Bryant, who emerged this season as a go-to scorer for the Phoenix in a manner no Towson player did.

Bryant, the CAA Rookie of the Year, led all scorers with 21 points. Freshman guard Mike Morsell paced Towson with 18 points, while junior Timajh Parker-Rivera added 12 points and seven rebounds. McGlynn had 13 points, most of them late.

Skerry lamented that his team, which lost 2013-14 CAA Player of the Year Jerrelle Benimon to graduation, took so long to develop a top option. Sophomore forward John Davis was the team's lone all-conference selection, making the third team, but he finished with eight points and eight rebounds on 2-for-5 shooting.

Outside of a lull early in the second half, Elon's offense ran through Bryant with great effect.

"Elijah's big time," Hamilton said. "There are points in the game where you can see the look in his eyes and he's calling for the ball. We got it to him, and he made some great shots."

Skerry also lauded Elon for its 3-point shooting. The Phoenix hit 13 of 29 overall, an amount Skerry said would take his team months to hit.

The two teams, which barely cracked 100 total points in each of their regular-season matchups, scored at a pace early in the game that suggested they might double that. Nine minutes in, they already had matched the halftime total of their Jan. 22 meeting.

Then the game reverted to the low-scoring, physical affair both coaches had expected.

Towson closed out on shooters near the 3-point line, running through screens and contesting open jumpers, and Elon missed 11 of 13 shots during a late first-half stretch.

Towson had shooting woes of its own, but the CAA's top rebounding team gave itself plenty of second chances.

That changed in the second half, as Matheny begged each of his players at halftime to box out and deny Towson offensive rebounds.

Elon's largest second-half lead was five points, but Towson began getting to the free-throw line to trim the advantage.

Parker-Rivera hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to three points with 2:33 remaining, Morsell cut it to one with a layup with just under 80 seconds to play, and after another Phoenix field goal, Davis hit from the foul line to bring Towson within two.

McGlynn, who at that point had just four points, drew contact on a drive on Towson's final possession of regulation, and evened the score with his free throws.

Samson and Hamilton each finished with 12 points for Elon. Collin Luther had 11 points for the Phoenix, while Kevin Blake added 10 in the win.

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