The education of the Towson men's basketball team continues.
The Tigers played visiting William & Mary, one of three teams leading the Colonial Athletic Association, to a 35-35 tie at halftime. But the Tribe opened the second half with a 11-4 run that Towson could not recover from en route to an 85-72 loss before an announced 1,889 at SECU Arena Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers (8-11, 1-5 CAA) have lost four consecutive games and 10 of their last 11.
Towson's past three league games have been frustrating. The team overcame a 10-point deficit to Northeastern in the second half of their Jan. 10 meeting, but couldn't score in the final 81 seconds as the Huskies escaped with a 52-49 win.
The Tigers forced Delaware to overtime on Wednesday, but the Blue Hens scored the final seven points to erase a four-point gap and prevail, 67-64.
On Saturday, Towson couldn't prevent the Tribe (11-6, 5-1) from connecting on 13 3-pointers and shooting 56.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Senior guard Marcus Thornton, a Prince George's County resident, made 4 of 9 3-point attempts to tie David Schneider as William & Mary's all-time leader with 278 3-pointers made.
The 85 points scored by the Tribe were the most allowed in regulation by the Tigers since last year's season-ending, 85-73, loss to Murray State, and coach Pat Skerry wasn't pleased with the team's defensive effort. The Tribe entered the week leading the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage (48.3) and second in average 3-point field goals made (8.6).
"A big point of emphasis was guarding the 3-point shot and that clearly didn't happen," he said. "We missed a lot of shots in the paint, and we missed a lot of free throws, but we know we've got to guard the 3-point shot. Thornton is obviously tremendous, but the thing that jumps out is their complementary guys were [9-for-14] from 3. That's really the game, set and match.
"I'm kicking myself a little bit. I didn't yell and scream at the half. Though I wanted to, I was talked out of it, and that's my fault. We gave up six [3-pointers] in the first half, and I probably should have been more maniacal about it. I thought we would settle in, and we didn't. And they're one of these teams, too, that once they get some confidence early, they start making some tough ones. They're a high-powered offensive club. "
William & Mary shot 55.6 percent (25-for-45) from the floor, including 58.3 percent (14-of-24) in the second half and scored 50 points in the second frame for the second consecutive game. It was the team's second-best shooting performance of the season, trailing only a 65.6 percent performance in a 66-62 win over Wofford on Nov. 29.
Sophomore guard Daniel Dixon scored 20 points and was joined by senior guard Marcus Thornton (18 points), junior forward Terry Tarpey (14), sophomore guard Omar Prewitt (14), and freshman guard Greg Malinowski (11) in double figures.
"That's one of the best things about the day," coach Tony Shaver said. "For us to be really good, we have to be balanced and we have been all year long. … Marcus can get shots, but he can also get people shots."
Sophomore forward John Davis paced Towson with a game-high 24 points on 9-for-17 shooting and a team-best 11 rebounds, securing his CAA-leading eighth double-double of the season.
Towson converted 42.2 percent (27-of-64) of its shots, the team's best showing since shooting 43.5 percent (20-for-46) in a 61-52 loss at James Madison on Jan. 3. The Tigers committed a season-low four turnovers
But Davis acknowledged the slow start to open the second half affected the Tigers.
"It hurt us a lot," he said. "In the first half, they hit six threes and that actually gave them confidence. So when they came back out in the second half, from us giving them confidence in the first half, they just kept going, kept knocking them down. I don't think we discouraged them enough, as we should. We actually gave them confidence."