By: Jalon Dixon, Columnist
File Photo by: Brendan Felch/The Towerlight
During their last matchup in Convocation Center before the Dukes move to their new Atlantic Union Bank Center, Towson took down James Madison 63-47.
Senior guard Brian Fobbs scored 14 points and collected nine rebounds while sophomore guard Allen Betrand scored 12.
“That was a total team win,” head coach Pat Skerry said to Towson Sports Network (TSN). “All eight guys absolutely helped us. It’s a big win, it’s on the road, we haven’t had a lot of success here and we’re in the race.”
The Dukes (9-16,2-12 CAA) would jump out to a 6-0 lead early after back-to-back threes from junior guard Matt Lewis. Lewis hit all six of James Madison’s threes in the game, the remaining Dukes went 0-12 from behind the arc.
With 14:11 left in the half and James Madison up 11-6, things would start to pick up for the Tigers (16-11, 9-5 CAA) after freshman forward Charles Thompson and redshirt senior forward Dennis Tunstall knocked down back-to-back layups to bring Towson within one point.
The backcourt of Fobbs and Betrand would chip in baskets of their own to continue a 8-2 run to put them up 18-13 with 10:18 left in the half, forcing the Dukes to use a timeout.
“I feel like everyone was tremendous on the defensive end,” Tunstall said to TSN. “We were swarming everything, and we shut down their best two players.”
Out of the timeout, Lewis hit another three as James Madison went on a 7-2 run to tie the game. The Tigers defense stepped up, forcing four turnovers over the next five minutes and held the Dukes to four points as they ended the half up 36-24.
Although Lewis was having a strong half for James Madison scoring 14 points, junior guard Darius Banks who scored 27 last time thefaced Towson, struggled as he went scoreless in the game (0-12 from the floor).
“Give credit to Allen Betrand,” Skerry said. “He was the main matchup on that so he did a really good job.”
At the start of the second half, Dukes junior forward Dwight Wilson hit a jumper to close the lead to ten.
The Tigers responded with three baskets of their own capped by a big three pointer from freshman guard Jason Gibson to bring the lead to 43-28 with 16:15 left in the game.
The play of Towson’s freshmen was a significant factor as the combination of Thompson, Gibson and redshirt freshman guard Nicolas Timberlake would combine for 25 points.
“They’re not freshman anymore,” Skerry said to TSN. “We believe in them. They’re good players and we’re going to strain with those guys.”
Both Skerry and Tunstall were impressed by the freshmen’s performances.
“Charles was tremendous on the glass and finishing as well, he was being tough down there,” Tunstall said to TSN. “And Jason and Nic hit big shots down the stretch.”
James Madison would start to climb back in with an 11-5 run led by Wilson and Lewis to cut the Tigers lead to single digits with 11:16 left in the game.
From that point forward, Towson held the Dukes to only nine points over the next ten minutes to close out the game.
“Defense and rebounding — I love that,” Skerry said to TSN. “They’re making me happy on this ride home. Our rebound numbers were unbelievable. Nick Timberlake with eight, [Brian] Fobbs with nine, Charles Thompson with seven, Jason Gibson with five. I love defense and rebounding.”
The Tigers will return to SECU Arena tied for third place in the conference as they take on William & Mary on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.