By Jake Shindel, men’s basketball reporter
Towson men’s basketball head coach Pat Skerry does not typically give freshmen extended minutes.
Last season, neither guard Dylan Williamson nor forward Cole Paar played for the Tigers while guard Christian May averaged four points per contest. The year before, guards Rahdir Hicks and Tyler Gill and forward Tyler Coleman combined for just 2.8 points per contest.
But that hasn’t applied this year for freshmen Tyler Tejada or Mekhi Lowery. Tejada’s 13 points, second-most on Towson behind forward Charles Thompson’s 14, helped Towson defeat Robert Morris on Sunday night, 66-62.
On a night where Towson shot a poor 11-for-19 from the free throw line, Tejada sank four of his five attempts, including two in the final seconds, which extended the Tigers’ lead to four and iced the game.
“It was nerve-wracking a little bit, but I trust the work that I put in day in and day out,” Tejada said. “It was a great experience and great atmosphere, and I’m glad I was part of it.”
Attendance for the game eclipsed the 1,900 mark, but Tejada, playing in his first home game at Towson, was not phased by the bigger stage.
“Like coach says, follow your training,” Tejada said. “Being Towson tough, staying aggressive. I look up to Charles, [forward Messiah Jones], [guard Rahdir Hicks]. They all help me get mentally locked in and figure out the ins and outs of college basketball.”
Lowery also significantly impacted the game, shooting 3-for-5 from the field, grabbing two rebounds, and coming up with two steals. His efforts on the defensive end earned him a spot on the court for the game’s final seconds when his on-ball defense forced a crucial miss for Robert Morris.
“He’s a great kid,” Skerry said. “He’s going to be a good player. He’s so long, he plays hard. We’re just a little top-heavy. Last year, he played center, and now he’s a wing, our third-string point guard…”
The game was back and forth most of the way after Towson grabbed an early nine-point lead. From there, the two teams seemingly traded baskets back and forth with neither team able to find an edge.
The two teams were tied in the game’s final minute before May missed a 3-point shot, grabbed his own offensive rebound, and put it back up for an easy layup. It was free throws the rest of the way for the Tigers, who scraped by with a win.
Lowery and Tejada make up two of the team’s freshmen this year. Freshman Jaiden Cole has not played this season as he works his way back from a foot injury. Skerry has stated that Cole might be the best recruit the team has seen since Skerry arrived in 2011.
“They’re really tall for freshmen. They’re great teammates; they want to be good. We’re not really looking at them like freshmen because they’ve got here on Memorial Day… Honestly, we need them. So they can’t play like freshmen.”
Tejada has started each of Towson’s first three games this year, averaging 13 points per game on an efficient 67% shooting from the field and 78% shooting from 3-point range.
Lowery averages 3.7 points per game, but his scoring in each outing has increased. He didn’t score against Colorado, recorded four points against Coppin State, and scored seven on Sunday night.
Towson’s next game will be on Thursday against No. 7 Houston as part of the Charleston Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.