By: Jake Shindel, Courtney Ott and Sam Peterson
The Towson University Men’s Basketball team defeated the University at Albany 67-62, with strong play from transfers being the difference in the game.
In a match where Towson Head Coach Pat Skerry only used a seven-man rotation, transfer forward Sekou Sylla put up 19 points while transfer guard Nygal Russell contributed 12. Forward Charles Thompson put up 13 points and two blocks.
After holding a 15-point lead in the first half, Albany fought back, holding a lead late in the second half.
“We did do a good job making foul shots late, and we told our guys in the locker room that this is what its going to be like every night and we’re still finding our way,” Skerry said.
Transfers scored early for Towson, with Russell starting the scoring for the season with a putback layup followed by a driving layup, and then Sylla chipping in four points to put Towson up 8-5, a lead they took into the under-16 timeout.
Guard Nicolas Timberlake recorded three steals over the first eight minutes of the game, with Towson holding a 15-9 lead going into the under-12 timeout. Sylla and Russell combined for all of the team’s points, with eight and seven points respectively.
A three pointer by Russell made him the first double-digit scorer of the game with 10 points off 4/4 shooting, and Towson took a 26-13 lead into the under-8 timeout.
Sylla became the second Tiger to reach double digits, recording 10 points before the under-4 timeout. Guard Jason Gibson was also a factor in the team’s first half scoring with seven points.
“When our number’s called, it’s just time for us to come in, add just as much of an impact we can,” Sylla said.
The Tigers went into halftime holding a double-digit lead, up 38-28. Towson finished the first half with a 45% field goal percentage, an 83% free throw percentage and 30% three point field goal percentage.
Both teams finished the half neck-and-neck in rebounds with Towson holding 19 rebounds and Albany collecting 18. The Tigers led the first half in steals with four, and both teams were tied with three blocks each.
Albany started the second half with a quick 6-0 run before a bucket from Sylla halted the streak, and Towson rode an eight point lead into the under-16 timeout. A 4-0 run and eight-point lead by Towson forced a timeout by Albany with 11:44 remaining.
The Tiger lead was cut to three points with ten minutes remaining which prompted a Towson timeout, up 50-47. Sylla converted one out of two from the charity stripe to make it a four-point game, but a three put the game at a one-point difference. Towson took a 53-50 lead into the under-8 break.
“We had some bad play calls in that stretch where they came back and certainly we have to clean some stuff up,” Skerry said.
Tied at 53 apiece, Albany picked up a flagrant foul, awarding guard Cam Holden with two free throws, and he converted both. From that point on, the game got scrappy, with more physical plays from both teams.
A free throw by forward Aaron Reddish gave Albany their first lead of the game since the 18:50 marker of the first half, and took them into the under-4 timeout with a one-point lead. A physical and-one by Charles Thompson and subsequent make from the stripe gave the Tigers a one-point lead, while Thompson reached 13 points on the game.
Skerry called a timeout with 36 seconds left in the game and the team up by five points. On the ensuing possession, Timberlake picked up his fourth foul of the game, making contact with Reddish on a three-point attempt.
Reddish went 3/3 from the line and cut the Tiger lead to two points, and then Timberlake went 1/2 from the line on Towson’s next possession to put Towson back up three. Albany called a timeout with 14 seconds left in regulation, but a mishandled pass led to a turnover, and sealed the win for Towson, 67-62.
“Everyone is going to expect us to roll over everyone,” Skerry said. “It’s not going to happen, it’s going to be a grind and we have to earn it”.
The Tigers moved to 1-0, with a road battle up next for the squad. The team will travel to the University of Massachusetts in a bout on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.