The Towson men’s basketball team was trying to work its way through some early-season troubles Sunday, and the Tigers put some good things together in the second half of its game against Loyola Maryland.
After watching the visiting Greyhounds post 41 first-half points and a five-point lead at the break, Towson tightened its defense. The Tigers also began to attack more on offense, used a 10-point run to take over midway through the second half and pulled away late for an 85-69 victory at SECU Arena.
Brian Fobbs scored 16 of his team-high 25 points in the second half for Towson while teammate Tobias Howard added 16 of his 23 as the Tigers outscored Loyola 49-28 in the final 20 minutes and broke a three-game losing streak.
Towson is very much a work in progress now as the team has 10 new faces and it’s early in the season. But the Tigers played much better defensively in the second half. Loyola had 17 first-half baskets and shot 52 percent, but could make only six shots in second half and none in the final 5:48 — a big reason Towson blew the game open in those final minutes.
“We played poorly in the Bahamas, [but] I’m proud of our guys,” Towson coach Pat Skerry said. “We try to [work hard] on defense. It was better in the second half.”
Towson (2-4) forced Loyola (2-5) to miss 16 of its 22 second-half shots, and the Tigers made it much tougher for the Greyhounds to find the open looks. Andrew Kostecka led Loyola with a game-high 30 points, and 20 of those came in the first half as he scored points inside and outside.
However, the Greyhounds struggled right from the start of the second half. They held a 41-36 halftime lead, but Hobbs scored eight in the 10-0 run that gave Towson a 54-51 lead with just under 11 minutes remaining.
“They set the tone, especially in the second half,” first-year Loyola coach Tavaras Hardy said. “They were able to get us out of our rhythm.”
Kostecka didn’t find the shots from the outside that were there in the first half. The Tigers had hands and arms everywhere, and it proved to be too much for Loyola in the second half of this game.
“They definitely picked up the intensity,” Kostecka said.
Towson had not fared that badly on offense in the first half. The Tigers led for a long stretch before Kostecka sparked a late run that gave the Greyhounds that halftime lead.
Still, Towson shot 48 percent from the field in the first half, a big reason the Tigers trailed by just five at the break. Towson also pounded the ball inside more in the second half and came up with many more high-percentage shots. Overall, the Tigers finished with 24 points in the paint and 15 in second-chance situations.
In fact, Towson shot 48 percent overall in the game.
The Tigers held a 39-32 edge in rebounding as their size advantage seemed to wear down Loyola in the second half. Towson also had not played in seven days, and that, combined with having so many new players, was probably another reason the Tigers struggled at times in the first half.
“It makes us feel good,” Howard said of the victory. “It was rough in [the Bahamas] as we were close in all three of those games.”
Skerry said he knows it is going to take some time for everything to come together. Howard and Fobbs agreed with him on that point. This was just one of the nights that could help the Tigers turn things around and go on the right path.
They played part of a good half, gutted out a tough victory and ended a three-game losing streak. That’s something any young team can build upon.
“It takes time,” Skerry said. “At this point, it’s about can you play your best basketball later in the year?”
The Tigers hope they can.
Morgan State 78, Mount St. Mary’s 68: Martez Cameron scored 15 points, Tyler Streeter scored 14 and the Bears kept the host Mountaineers winless.
After a 35-all first-half tie, Jordan Little’s jump shot nine seconds in put Morgan State (2-3) ahead for good. Sherwyn Devonish-Prince Jr.’s jumper later extended the lead to 49-41 and Cameron’s 3-pointer made it 55-45 with 10:23 remaining.
The Mountaineers (0-6) struggled to protect the ball, committing 26 turnovers. For their part, the Bears committed 30 personal fouls and the Mountaineers 24. Mount St. Mary’s, however, made just 25 of 41 foul shots (61 percent). The Mount had a 51-33 rebounding advantage.
Jalen Gibbs led Mount St. Mary’s with 19 points, Nana Opoku scored 15 with nine rebounds and Vado Morse scored half of his 14 points from the free-throw line.
Saint Joseph’s 49, Loyola Maryland 46: The Greyhounds’ comeback bid fell short in the final game of the Hawk Classic at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia.
Sophomore Isabella Therien led all players with 19 points and also led Loyola with nine rebounds, while senior Bri Betz-White contributed 11 points and junior Stephanie Karcz had seven rebounds, four assists and five steals.
For Saint Joseph’s, Katie Mayock had a team-best 15 points and Michala Clay had a game-high 11 rebounds.
After taking a 26-18 lead into halftime, Loyola went cold from the field in the third quarter, getting outscored 25-8. With all eight points coming off free throws, the Greyhounds relinquished their lead and the Hawks pulled head 42-34.
Therien’s 3-pointer at the 7:33 mark of the fourth quarter sparked a 10-2 run that pulled Loyola within three, 47-44, with 4:15 to play. The Hawks answered with a pull-up jumper at 3:37 before Therien’s turnaround jumper at the 3:12 mark kept the Greyhounds within three, 49-46, but Saint Joseph’s held on for the win.