By: Jalon Dixon, Columnist
Photo by: Brendan Felch/The Towerlight
The Tigers celebrated Senior Day with a bounce-back performance over Elon, 84-71. The victory earned Towson (17-12, 10-6 CAA) a first round bye in the CAA tournament, and secured a sweep over the Phoenix (7-10, 11-19 CAA) for the first time since 2016.
Senior guard Brian Fobbs, redshirt senior forwards Dennis Tunstall and Nayke Sanders played their final home game at SECU Arena and head coach Pat Skerry expressed he is appreciative of their impact on the program.
“I love these guys,” Skerry said. “t’s been a privilege to coach them at home. They all played well today from Dennis having a career high four assists for a forward which is unbelievable to Nakye’s last 10 minutes and Brian was good. He is the horse that pulls the wagon. He knows how to strain. Good team win.”
In a collective effort, freshman guard Jason Gibson and Fobbs led the Tigers with 19 points a piece and a combined 12 rebounds.
“We’re back, we’re in the mix, we’re having a good year,” Skerry said. “I still think we can have a great year. That’ll be determined March 8th to 10th down in D.C., but I’m appreciative of these guys for getting us back in the mix.”
Towson got out to an early 12-4 lead as Elon missed three of their first five shots. The Tigers hit three straight from deep including two from Gibson and held a 26-11 lead with 11 minutes in the first half.
Three-point shooting played a significant role in the first half as Towson hit seven of 13 shots while the Phoenix only made two of their 12 attempts. The Tigers led at halftime 40-30.
In the second half Gibson scored six consecutive points and extended Towson’s lead to nine points. He scored ten points in the second half and was featured on SportsCenter after a miraculous save out of bounds that led to a dunk on the other end.
“That wasn’t shocking by Gibby,” Sanders said. “We see what he can do everyday in practice. He goes hard, he’s a great leader out there at the point guard spot. Tough, he’s a great piece for us.”
With the score 58-46 with 10:35 left in the game, the Tigers began to pick up the pace after a three-pointer from redshirt freshman guard Nicolas Timberlake started up what would turn into a 14-5 to 5 run that ended with a dunk from Fobbs to put Towson up 70-51 and give them their biggest lead of the night.
The celebrated senior group of Fobbs, Sanders and Tunstall combined for 37 points and 16 rebounds.
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Tunstall said. “It’s definitely been a long journey. Every game is a big game, our next goal is to cut down the nets in March.”
The Tigers struggled offensively as they took the loss 61-51 to William and Mary.
Towson only shot 27% from the floor and 35% from three. Fobbs was the only Tiger with over ten points, scoring 15 and adding seven rebounds. The Tribe’s (20-10, 12-5 CAA) duo of junior guard Luke Loewe and senior forward Nathan Knight combined for 29 points.
“Tough loss, thought we played hard but it’s obviously hard to win a ballgame against a good team when you’re shooting the ball that poorly.” Head coach Pat Skerry said.
For Towson, their offensive struggles would start to haunt them early. After going just over four minutes without scoring, Fobbs hit back-to-back threes to put the Tigers up 6-5.
Towson tied the game at 17-17 with six minutes remaining, but over the last six minutes of the half the Tigers only scored one field goal. William and Mary took a 32-23 lead into halftime outscoring Towson 15-6 in the final six minutes.
“We can’t get jump shot happy which obviously we did,” Skerry said. “It’s tough to lose a game when the defensive effort was pretty good,” Skerry said. “But I mean 27 percent that doesn’t just sit on the page, that like leaps off the page.”
The Tigers shooting woes were felt in the first half as they went a combined 8 of 36 from the field (22.2%)
Through the first seven minutes of the second half, the Tribe went on a 12-4 run and led 44-27 with 12:40 left. Towson responded with a 9-2 run including seven straight points. A 7-0 run later in the half cut William and Mary’s lead to six points. The Tribe held the Tigers scoreless for five minutes, and as Towson shot 2-9 to end the game came up short.
“Execution is the answer, doesn’t matter if there’s 40 people in the gym if there’s 4,000,” Skerry said. “If you’re home, if you’re away you gotta consistently execute at a high level. Unfortunately, we’ve had some moments, not from a lack of effort or competitiveness but when we get away from that we are not good enough to beat good teams doing that.”
The Tigers travel to face the Hofstra Pride on Thursday, Feb 27 at 7 p.m.