Towson men’s basketball gets strong effort from freshmen, advances to semifinals of CAA Men’s Basketball Championship with win over UNCW

By Jake Shindel, men’s basketball reporter

With four seconds left at the end of the first half, Towson freshman guard Tyler Tejada chucked up a shot from inside the free-throw line on the opposite side of the court. He banked it in and put Towson within one point at the break.

Tejada scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds. The rest of the team’s freshmen stepped up, too. Redshirt freshman guard Dylan Williamson scored a team-high 18 points, including an 11-for-12 performance from the charity stripe. Freshman guard Mekhi Lowery scored 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.

The freshmen combination of Tejada, Williamson and Lowery combined for 36 points. The effort helped push No. 5 Towson men’s basketball past No. 4 UNC-Wilmington on Sunday afternoon, 66-56.

“[Lowery] is just a tough kid,” Towson coach Pat Skerry said. “Talented. Probably should be playing him more… He gave us a big, big boost. A couple really good finishes.”

While Lowery led the team with seven rebounds, redshirt junior guard Nendah Tarke recorded the game’s biggest rebound. 

With 1:32 remaining, Tarke went up for an offensive rebound and tipped it out to restart the shot clock with his team up by three points. The possession led to three free throws after Williamson was fouled on a 3-point shot, and Towson took control of the game.

“We gotta get to the glass, attack the backboard,” Tarke said. “I knew the only way I was going to get it was tapping it out. I saw [Williamson], he was getting back. As I jumped, I saw him, just tapped it. Any way to get us another possession.”

It was a meaningful win for Towson after the team fell to the Seahawks in Wilmington on March 2. UNCW graduate student guard Shykeim Phillips dunked the ball with 10 seconds left despite his team being up by nine. Skerry says the team was motivated by the end of last week’s game. 

“I 100%… understood what our guys were ready for coming into the game today,” Skerry said. “A couple of them said earlier today they wouldn’t have cared if the game was played outside. They’re just excited for the opportunity to compete against them again.”

Neither team was able to pull away in the low-scoring first half. The lead did not reach four points or more for either side until there was 2:06 remaining in the first half. UNCW stretched its lead to six before Towson ended the half on a 5-0 run.  UNCW held a 30-29 lead going into the break.

Junior forward Trazarien White had 18 of UNCW’s 30 points, while Williamson led all Towson scorers with eight.

Turnovers were the story of the first half after Towson turned the ball over 11 times in the 20 minutes. The second half was a different story, though, as the Tigers limited the mistakes and turned the ball over five times. 

“Trust what we do,” Tarke said. “We’re not really a high-turnover team, so we were just trying not to let the defense dictate what we do. As long as we play our game, do our stuff, we know we’ll be good.”

The buzzer-beater from Tejada provided a spark for Towson, who jumped out to a four-point lead less than two minutes into the second half. 

With eight minutes remaining in the game, Towson led by 10 points. However, the lead had dwindled to two less than five minutes later. 

But clutch play on the defensive end limited UNCW. Towson held the Seahawks to five points in the last 3:38. Towson scored 13 points in the span, mainly on free throws, to ice the game.

The Tigers advanced to the next round of the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship, where they’ll face No. 1 Charleston on Monday at 6:30 p.m.

“They’re incredibly well coached. They’re talented. They took us to the woodshed a couple of weeks ago,” Skerry said. “They beat us like a drum… We’re going to need to put an incredible game plan together.” 

Jake Shindel has been a member of The Towerlight since the fall of 2020. He has served as a writer, associate editor, Editor-in-Chief, Sports Editor, and now Deputy Sports Editor. He has also held internships with The Daily Record and Baltimore Fishbowl, as well as PressBox Online, the Baltimore Blast, and Towson Sports Network.


Success! You're on the list.