Winter Sports Preview: Men’s basketball, Women’s basketball, gymnastics, swimming and diving

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By: Tyler Beard, Assistant Sports Editor

Towson opened up the 2015-16 season with a 78-76 loss to the La Salle Explorers on Saturday afternoon.

“We’re past the moral victories,” Head Coach Pat Skerry said. “I think you’re going to see us play with an edge this year. Our guys were surprised at what people think of us so there are no moral victories. We didn’t find a way to win but I think we’ll benefit from it.” 

The Tigers (0-1) trailed the Explorers (1-0) 70-62 with less than nine minutes left game and put together a 9-0 run to take the lead. 

The run included a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Byron Hawkins, who finished the game with 13 points.

Hawkins was the third-leading scorer for the Tigers last season and will be the starting point guard for the team this year. His 13 points came off 4-of-8 shots from the field and also finished with four assists.

However, La Salle responded with an 8-3 run, which included five straight points from guard Johnnie Shuller. The run gave the team a 78-73 lead with five seconds left in the game.

Hawkins hit another 3-pointer with one second left in the half to cut the lead to two points but Towson wasn’t able to get the ball back.

Towson’s leading scorer was Wake Forest transfer Arnaud William Adala Moto, who finished the game with 28 points and nine rebounds.

The redshirt junior shot 8-of-18 from the field and is expected to be the team’s central scorer this season. 

He sat out last season due to transfer rules and spoke about what he worked on in the offseason.

“It was tough,” Moto said. “I pretty much worked on everything, but mostly my shot. I’ve been putting in a lot of time on my shot. I’m a driver first, so I’ve been trying to get to the free-throw line.”

Moto scored 16 points in the first half, with 10 points coming from free throws. 

Sophomore forward Mike Morsell finished the game with 13 points and shot 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. He struggled from the field, shooting 2-of-13, but finished last season tied for the team’s highest field-goal percentage at 47 percent.

Junior forward John Davis also shot 47 percent last season and finished the game with nine points and eight rebounds.

Davis came off the bench for the Tigers last season and provided a spark down low for the team. He led the Tigers with 8.1 rebounds per game.

Senior forward Timajh Parker-Rivera and junior forward Walter Foster combined 20 rebounds and three blocks against Drexel. 

The two men are expected to be the key rebounders, starting 4 and 5 positions for Towson.

The Tigers got the chance to redeem their selves quickly in their first home matchup against the Morgan St. Bears last night. Check thetowerlight.com for an updated game story.

“Wherever we’re not good, we’re going to find out quickly and we’ll be able to rectify it,” Skerry said.

Their next game will be against Oklahoma State in Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m.

Women’s Basketball

By: Desmond Boyle, Staff Writer 

The Tigers plan to put one of the youngest starting five onto the court this season, and their approach to their 78-72 defeat to Rider this past Saturday was no different.

The young Towson squad showed their talent as they outperformed the Broncos for most of the first half. 

Rider then had several scoring runs later in the game that allowed them to eventually maintain a solid lead from midway through the third quarter until the final buzzer.

“On offense we were able to put up some points.” Head Coach Niki Reid Geckeler said. “On the defensive end have to go back and fix a couple things. We need to learn how to play with a lead and hold a lead defensively.”

The Tigers got a strong performance from one of their two seniors, guard Dominique Johnson. Johnson scored 22 points, 21 coming from her seven successful three point shots. 

Freshmen Sianni Martin also put in an impressive performance for her collegiate debut scoring 18 points to go along with her five assists and four steals. 

Junior guard Raven Bankston was the other Tiger to tally double digit scoring figures with 14 points.

Towson raced out to a fast start in the game as the Tigers shot 60 percent from the field in the opening ten minutes. 

Behind three pointers from Johnson and Bankston, the Tigers opened up 34-25 lead with about four minutes left in the opening half. 

The Broncos then went on a 9-2 run to close the gap to one point as the first half ended. 

Rider continued to battle to grab a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter that they did not give up in the entire final quarter.

The tough loss at Rider was the start of a long and arduous out of conference schedule that includes trips to big schools like Minnesota and Georgetown along with hosting SEC power Auburn. 

Towson will also have tests in its conference schedule as a poll of coaches has the Tigers predicted to finish eighth out of the 10 teams in the CAA.

“The entire schedule is tough, our out of conference schedule presents a different test in every game.” Geckler said. “The tough games and the different styles we’ll see in our out of conference games will definitely help us when we get to our conference games.”

The Tigers schedule continues Tuesday night at 7 .pm. at George Mason.

Gymnastics

By: Alex Toribio, Contributing Writer 

Towson gymnastic has an exciting 2016 season ahead of them. After finishing 10-13 last season and tying third-place at the East Coast Gymnastics League (EAGL), they will host four home matchups and seven away in the coming months.

Head Coach Vicki Chliszczyk has high hopes for the team, even after losing four seniors and two underclassmen gymnasts, all who were Towson starters. 

“Finding starters for each event is something we are still working on,” Chliszczyk said. “As well as figuring out who will start the first event, which is important to set the tone for the whole line up.”

Last season, three Towson gymnasts went to the 2015 NCAA Auburn Regionals. 

Out of the three, only one remains on the roster for the 2016 season, sophomore Tyra McKellar.  McKellar finished 11th in the all-around competition with an overall individual score of 38.675 at Regionals. 

Chliszczyk and the team are determined to have more girls qualify for Regionals this season and place higher as a team in the EAGL Championship.

Towson will host an Inner Squad Showcase on Friday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in SECU Arena. 

The Tigers will show off their new members and routines for the upcoming season. The team will split up into two separate teams (black and gold) to “compete” against each other. 

The team has had a slow start in pre-season, but have been rigorously working on putting their routines together for the season.

Freshman Amanda Pratt was recruited to the Towson team her junior year at New Oxford High School. She was a member of the varsity gymnastic club in her hometown as a junior and senior in high school.

“Joining Towson’s team was very different from club,” Pratt said. “I had been the oldest for a couple years, so it was nice to have teammates my own age and older.” 

Pratt feels that she is fitting in well with the other girls.

“I love it here,” Pratt said. “Everyone gets along and there’s always a positive atmosphere in the gym.”

This season, Pratt and six other freshmen dominate the roster as new members on Towson’s Gymnastics team.

“All are very talented girls with great potential,” Chliszczyk said. “It’ll take a couple of meets for them to feel comfortable, but everyone makes mistakes and that is when the team has to learn from each other and lead.”

Towson heads to Pittsburgh for its first matchup against Maryland, Eastern Michigan State and Pittsburgh on Sunday, Jan. 10 at 2 p.m. The team and coaches are eager to begin their journey this season.

“There is a lot of work to do still, so we have to make every practice count,” Chliszczyk said. “But we are all excited to start the season.”

Swimming and Diving

By: Chris Wells, Staff Writer

Towson’s swimming and diving team is wrapping up its fall season with competition at Pittsburgh from Nov. 20-22.

After a week off for Thanksgiving, the Tigers will gear up for Winter Nationals in Federal Way, Washington, from Dec. 3-5. 

Towson’s winter dual season will resume Jan. 9 at Burdick Pool against McDaniel. 

The remaining schedule includes dual meets against Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, John Hopkins University and ends with a face-off against Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) rival Delaware.

“We need our upper class athletes to lead our large group of freshman if we are going to be succussful,” Head Coach Pat Mead said in an interview in the fall. “The more competition, I believe, the more opportunity for them to learn how to race and compete.” 

Although the dual meet season started with a loss, the Tigers have reeled off four straight victories and will look to keep their win streak alive.

At the beginning of the season Mead expected a lot out of his young Tigers. 

As the season has progressed, he feels that the freshmen class has stepped up.

“Overall, it was a very good effort by everyone and our freshman are performing better and contributing in the meets now,” Mead said in an interview in the fall.” 

On the men’s side, freshmen to keep an eye on are Jack Saunderson (Fly/Back), Jake Casey (Diving), and Stefan Keller (Breast/I.M.).

The older male Tigers have been leading the team all season and will look to translate regular season success into post-season glory. 

Postseason hopefuls include seniors Zach Brech (Fly/Free), Matt Hans (Sprint Free), Matt McKenney (Fly/Free), and juniors Nick Breschi (Backstroke) and Tim Schade (I.M.). 

Like the men, the older women Tigers have dominated this season. 

Senior standout Jenna Van Camp (Breaststroke) remains as consistent as ever leading her team in impressive fashion with every passing competition.

Other postseason hopefuls to keep an eye on are seniors Christine Hammond (I.M./Back), Charlotte Holz (I.M./Back), Hannah Ostrem (Diving), Natalee Szopo (Diving) and junior Macey Arnold (Free).

The freshmen women’s scores have been impressive as well, led by Ashley Illenye (Fly/Dist Free), Ryan Ulrich (Back/Free) and Amanda Rosa (Breast/I.M.). 

In order to extend in postseason competition, swimmers and divers must place at CAA Championships.

 

Men’s Basketball

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