Towson continues early season struggles

By: Brooks Warren, Staff Writer

File Photo by: Brendan Felch/The Towerlight

Towson visited Rutgers University for their final road trip of 2019 but walked away with a 67-53 loss and fell to 3-6 on the season.

The Scarlet Knights were led by 17-point performances by redshirt junior guard Arella Guirantes and junior forward Mael Gilles. Redshirt junior guard Kionna Jeter led the Tigers with 23 points, eight steals, and seven rebounds. Senior forward Nukiya Mayo contributed 14 points, 5 rebounds, and two blocks. 

“I think everybody did a good job today,” Jeter said. “[Mayo] was out for a minute, like I said we just got to get together and play hard for each other.”

Towson heads into Finals week still looking for that consistent magic that helped them win their first CAA championship in program history. The program has established its identity and leans on its culture when the wins come.

Against Rutgers, it was staying together and remaining tough mentally and physically. The Scarlet Knights outrebounded Towson 48-31 and attempted 32 free throws. 

She also cited the sheer difference in rebounds, 48-31, and 22-32, the number of free throws that Rutgers shot in the game. The foul trouble forced head coach Diane Richardson to only play Mayo 27 minutes with three fouls. Senior guard Ryan Holder just played 27 minutes before she fouled out. Junior forward Tess Borgosz played 25 minutes. With three key players dealing with foul trouble, Richardson played junior center Wiebke Shwartau 13 minutes and junior center LaKaitlin Wright eight minutes. 

“I think overall we did what we could,” Jeter said.

In spite of those issues, Jeter did all she could to keep the Tigers in the game. After being down as much as 10 points after layup late in the first quarter, Towson gradually worked the lead down with an 8-0 run to take a 36-34 lead in the third quarter. Jeter was the main architect, tying the game after back-to-back three-pointers and then gave the Tigers a one-possession lead after a steal and layup the other way. 

That was the last time Towson led as the Scarlet Knights outscored the Tigers 20-4 the remainder of the third quarter, building a late as large as 17 after splitting a pair of free throws. 

Towson fell to 3-5 on the season after a 74-59 loss to Temple University during the annual STEM Day game. 

Junior forward Mia Davis scored a game-high 26 points and 15 rebounds and redshirt sophomore guard Ashley Jones contributed 21 points and six rebounds to lead the Owls. The Tigers were led by Kionna Jeter who added her first double-double of the season with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

“Just gotta stay consistent,” Jeter said. “Got to be there for my team. I know we slacking a little bit and we’ll get that together but I just know what I gotta do individually.”

According to Jeter and head coach Diane Richardson, the main issue is getting more consistent play from this team. It’s an issue that continues to plague this year’s squad. Retaining that consistent play from the team’s key players is paramount to Towson’s success. 

“I knew it would be a tough battle because Temple plays, kind of the same style that we do,” Richardson said, “We wanted to protect home court, you know we battled in some instances but we were a little lax in others.”

Despite being down for nearly the entire game, the Tigers continued to play hard and respond to whatever Temple threw at them. Relying on their program culture will be a key aspect of establishing the consistent play needed to repeat as conference champions. 

“We just gotta get better for real,” Jeter said, “We’re fouling too much, not being as aggressive as we used to be on defense. We just got to get better all-around.”

Fans and the coaching staff saw that as sophomore guard Shavonne Smith tied the game midway through the second quarter with a layup off a redshirt senior guard Qierra Murray assist. 

That Towson fight was also seen in Wright. One of the few bright spots in the loss. Wright proved herself to be a viable option for Richardson to insert when she was able to score eight of her nine points, blocked two shots, and grabbed two rebounds in her 11 second-half minutes. At first, Wright had difficulties establishing her presence in the pain, badly missing on her first three shots. 

Going into the second half, Wright came on the court more confident and was able to post up deep enough in the paint where she could utilize her size and touch in the paint. Wright scored two consecutive shots and added a block late in the third quarter. Senior guard Ryan Holder also got into the act and scored a second-chance layup off a  Mayo rebound to cut the deficit to 41-36.

“(LaKaitlin) did a wonderful job coming in,” Richardson said. “You see something different, you see the quickness in her feet for a post player. She was on limited minutes today but I surely wanted to play her a little bit longer. She did really well and that’s what we expected.”

However, the Owls would go off for a 7-2 run for an eight-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Jeter cut the lead to single digits once again with a layup but Temple ended the game on an  8-0 run, earning their 15 point win over the Tigers.

Towson has a 13-day break before its next contest, a home game at SECU Arena against Marshall on Saturday, Dec. 21. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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