The best start in Towson men’s basketball’s Division I history got even better.
Four players scored at least 14 points — headlined by senior forward Charles Thompson’s 18 points — to propel the host Tigers to an 83-67 victory over Coppin State Tuesday night before an announced 1,730 at SECU Arena in Towson.
With the win, Towson improved to 5-0 – a first for both the program in its Division I era and coach Pat Skerry, now in his 12th season. Thompson, who collected 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season after compiling five last winter, acknowledged that he and his teammates are cognizant of the history they are making.
“A little bit because everybody talks about it, but honestly we’re just out there hooping and having fun and playing to the best of our capabilities,” he said. “We know what we can accomplish. This isn’t really a surprise to us. We knew what the schedule was going to be. We asked for a tough away schedule, and here we are.”
As positive as the results are, Skerry said there is still much work to be done.
“We’ve got a lot of things we have to get better at,” he said. “We didn’t play great the other night at [UNC] Greensboro, but I think our competitive and winning DNA showed up. We’re a little bit further along. There’s not a sense of panic. There’s a strong sense of belief and competitiveness with the guys. I like that. You don’t always have that with every group.”
Redshirt senior forward Cam Holden amassed 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. Graduate student shooting guard Nygal Russell racked up 14 points and six rebounds, and graduate student forward Sekou Sylla, the NCAA Division II Player of the Year last season, came off the bench to add 14 points and seven rebounds.
One game after becoming the 29th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point milestone, graduate student shooting guard Nicolas Timberlake contributed eight points, six rebounds and five assists.
The Tigers flexed their muscles on the glass. They outrebounded the Eagles, 42-25, which led to a 44-30 scoring advantage in the paint and a 17-9 edge in second-chance points.
“All week, Coach Skerry has been emphasizing boxing out,” Sylla said. “We did a ton of drills boxing out all week. That was really our point of focus, to win on the glass and make sure we get a body on people.”
The Tigers triumphed despite the absence of starting point guard Jason Gibson, who sat out his second consecutive game. In an 80-74 victory at Penn on Nov. 13, the Severna Park resident injured his back, which he had offseason surgery on in 2021 and then the back locked up on him minutes before the game at UNC Greensboro on Thursday. Skerry said he is hopeful that Gibson will be available for three games over the weekend.
Sophomore Radhir Hicks made his second straight start in place of Gibson and finished with three points and four assists.
Redshirt sophomore shooting guard Nendah Tarke paced Coppin State (3-4) with 20 points, five rebounds and four steals. Redshirt senior point guard Sam Sessoms chipped in 19 points, five assists and three rebounds, and redshirt senior shooting guard Kam’Ron Blue finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
But the Eagles dropped their second consecutive game and sixth in a row to Towson. Coppin State coach Juan Dixon was critical of his players’ efforts on rebounds and said a similar showing would prove disastrous at No. 23 Maryland on Friday.
“We’re in for a rude awakening on Friday against Maryland,” said Dixon, the former Terps great who led the program to its first and only NCAA title in 2002. “They’re going to smell blood, and they’re going to hit the glass, and they’re going to play hard in transition, and they’re going to get out and run. We’re going to practice and get better in the next two days, and hopefully, we can correct it come Friday because it’s another great opportunity.”
The Tigers’ unblemished record appeared in jeopardy in the game’s first 105 seconds. After Holden gave Towson a 2-0 lead, the Eagles answered with seven straight points in a 60-second span.
The Tigers scored three straight points, but Coppin State added four for an 11-5 advantage, which would prove to be their largest of the first half.
Towson then went on a 23-0 run over an 8:21 stretch. The surge was fueled by Thompson’s 10 points and redshirt freshman guard Ryan Conway’s five points.
The Eagles didn’t help themselves as they missed 11 of 12 shots. Blue’s 3-pointer at the 8:01 mark ended the drought.
Coppin State chipped away at the deficit, eventually trimming it to 44-36 at halftime. But the Tigers scored 13 of the second half’s first 19 points to enjoy a 57-42 advantage that the Eagles never seriously threatened afterward.
Hostilo Hoops Community Classic
Fairfield vs. Towson
Friday, 4 p.m.
Stream: BeTheBeast Event Live+
Coppin State at Maryland
Friday, 4 p.m.
Radio: 105.7 FM