By: Jake Shindel, Sports Editor
The Towson Men’s Basketball team (21-12) fell to Charleston (30-3) on Monday night in the semifinal round of the CAA Men’s Championship, 77-72. The loss marks the second year in a row in which Towson has fallen in the semifinals, losing to Delaware last year.
Guard Nicolas Timberlake finished with 17 points for Towson after scoring just five at halftime, while forward Cam Holden led all scorers with 21 points in the game.
For Charleston, guard Reyne Smith led the team with 20 points, while forward Ante Brzovic proved effective in the post and scored 19 points. 28 of Charleston’s 77 points came from the free throw line off of 35 attempts.
Forward Ante Brzovic scored the first points of the game for Charleston, giving them a 2-0 lead, and then Holden responded with an and-one for Towson.
Pregame confrontations between the two teams carried into the game, with the refs assessing double technical fouls less than three minutes into the match.
Charleston held a 14-11 lead at the under-12 timeout. Brzovic scored five points for Charleston, while guard Rahdir Hicks contributed five for Towson.
At the 4:22 mark, Towson found their largest lead of the game at 29-25, but two free throws from Brzovic put the game at 29-27. Towson held their 29-27 lead as the game headed to the under-4 timeout.
A poster dunk by Timberlake put him at five on the game and gave Towson a 38-33 lead going into the break.
Holden led the team with 10 points at halftime with strong offensive play in the post. On defense, forward Charles Thompson’s two blocks helped slow down the Charleston interior offense, but Brzovic still scored 15 points in the first half, while making all eight shots from the free throw line.
Timberlake, Towson’s top scorer, was held to just five points at the break, but they held guard Dalton Bolon, Charleston’s top scorer in conference play, to just three points. Bolon picked up two fouls in the first half, and only played 10 minutes.
Head Coach Pat Skerry called a timeout after Charleston took a 42-40 lead. Towson surrendered two offensive rebounds on the same possession which resulted in a wide open three from guard Reyne Smith.
Holden ended an 8-0 run from Charleston by converting one of two free throws to put the game at 45-41 with Charleston in the lead. Skerry called another timeout after Charleston gained a nine-point lead with 13:25 remaining in the half. The timeout was called on the heels of five straight made field goals from the Cougars.
“We had a bad start to the second half, and still somehow fought back,” Skerry said. “We had a couple shots late that didn’t fall in.”
Charleston held a 58-47 lead at the under-12 timeout. Smith scored eight points in the first eight minutes of the second half for Charleston. Towson’s shooting stalled in the first eight minutes of the second half, shooting just 2-11 from the field.
Thompson fouled out of the game with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game as Towson trailed 60-49. Towson cut their deficit to seven after a Holden 3-pointer at the under-8 timeout. The make was Towson’s first made three of the game after having missed their first eight attempts.
After Thompson fouled out, forward Chris Biekeu came in and played the final ten minutes of the game.
“I thought [Biekeu] did a good job,” Skerry said. “He rebounded and did a good job on [Brzovic], who’s obviously a terrific player. [Biekeu] has done a good job when his number has been called.”
Towson had a chance to cut it to five, but a turnover by Hicks led to an easy bucket in transition for Charleston and put the game back at nine.
Back-to-back threes from Timberlake put the lead at three with just over four minutes remaining. Timberlake got to 15 points after the two 3-pointers. A Holden floater cut their deficit to one.
A tough bucket from Timberlake gave Towson the lead with two minutes in regulation, but two free throws by forward Raekwon Horton tied the game. Guard Nygal Russell was disqualified after a take foul that put him at five on the game. Towson had multiple chances after two offensive rebounds but was unable to convert.
Timberlake missed from three on their next possession which gave Charleston the ball. Hicks fouled guard Ryan Larson, and he hit both shots from the line to seal the game for Charleston. The Cougars won the game 77-72.
Towson’s season is over, but the team can still return two of its top scorers in Timberlake and Thompson. Holden has no more eligibility left.