By: Aaron Thomas, Staff Writer
File Photo by: Brendan Felch/The Towerlight
Five Tigers scored in double figures as Towson won their third consecutive game after beating their rival Delaware 84-68.
Sophomore guard Allen Betrand scored a game-high 18 points after starting the game making eight of his first nine shot attempts.
Head coach Pat Skerry was proud of his team after another impressive performance.
“It’s been such a good group to be around it’s been so few bad days with this group,” he said. “We guarded at a high-level and the ball moved. These guys shot the ball well tonight and it’s not a surprise with the amount of work they’ve put in. They’ve been living in the gym.”
The Tigers (9-9, 3-3 CAA) pressure on the defensive end allowed them to go into halftime with a 22-point lead, just as they did in their last game vs. Drexel. Towson’s intensity on defense held the Blue Hens (12-6, 2-3 CAA) to 33% shooting and took advantage of 11 points off the bench compared to Delaware’s two.
Redshirt junior forward Juwan Gray recorded a career-high tying three blocks along with 13 points and three rebounds. Redshirt freshman guard Nicolas Timberlake added 14 points off the bench while shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe.
Gray and Timberlake together combined for 27 of 33 Tigers bench points.
“Juwan might be our best defensive player,” Skerry said. “He’s got high-level intelligence and he moves really well. He had a big block early and a steal that got us going and I thought [Timberlake’s] defense was outstanding on their perimeter guys, two really good wing players.”
Despite his best offensive performance in nearly a month, Gray is a defense-first player who takes pride in it.
“Every game I make defense a priority because if my shot is not falling, then that’s a way I can stay in the game,” he said. “When we’re sharing the ball, and everybody is eating, and it gets everybody excited. It just shows how special of a team we can be when everybody is playing together and locking in on the defensive end.”
Towson was able to turn defensive stops into points by sharing the ball and finding high percentage shot opportunities. A well-balanced attack led to five players scoring in double figures while tying a season high with 18 assists. The Tigers were patient when running sets while also taking advantage of weak transition defense.
“I want guys to stay aggressive and keep shooting the ball,” Skerry said. “When the energy is good like that, the ball moves and we get a lot of open shots.”
Towson used a 12-0 run midway through the first half, resulting in a double digit lead they did not surrender the rest of the game.
Delaware scored the first four points of the second half, but about five minutes later the Tigers increased their lead to 26 points which would be their largest lead in the game. Despite the Blue Hens outscoring Towson in the second half 26-20, the Tigers held on for the win.
Towson put on a show defeating Drexel (10-8, 3-2 CAA) 89-73 in a national televised Colonial Athletic Association matchup at SECU Arena Thursday night. This victory marks the fifth consecutive time the Tigers have won against the Dragons at SECU Arena.
Skerry was pleased with the team effort and game plan execution.
“I am happy for our guys,” Skerry said. “We’ve continued to work, and they’ve been really good with practice and film. Tonight, we made shots and our defense was really good for 30 minutes.”
Towson was able to impose their will down low outscoring Drexel in the paint 44-26. The Tigers played hard and defended the Dragons well enough to hold them to 38% shooting while keeping Drexel scoreless for the final two minutes of the first half.
Towson took a 22-point lead, 47-25, into halftime. The Tigers scored 14 points off turnovers in the first half and held the Dragons to four points off turnovers. Senior guard Brian Fobbs was hot early scoring all 14 of his first half points in the first 12 minutes of the game.
Fobbs was very efficient scoring a game-high 28 points shooting 11-of-16. Betrand put up a career-high 23 points with 11 points in the first half and 12 points in the second half.
“My mindset was to keep being aggressive and keep shooting the ball,” Fobbs said. “I never worry about if I miss or make them.”
Drexel outscored Towson 48-42 in the second half. The Dragons had a 12-0 run midway through the second half, but the Tigers continued to take advantage of scoring in the paint and fastbreak opportunities doubling Drexel in both categories.
Betrand continues to elevate his game as a reliable partner alongside Fobbs. The dynamic duo combined for 51 points and both shot over 60% from the field.
“I saw all the action was focused on [Fobbs],” Betrand said. “Anytime he can get off to a hot start like that, it’s going to help us win games. I just try to add in where I can.”
In six games of CAA action, Betrand leads Towson in conference scoring at 18.2 points per game. This was also the sixth consecutive game that Betrand has scored in double figures.
Senior forward Dennis Tunstall tallied his 98th career blocked shot to move him into eighth place all-time in program history. Freshman guard Jason Gibson was a key contributor on defense recording a career best three steals.
The Tigers return home to SECU Arena on Saturday, Jan. 18 against James Madison. Tipoff against the Dukes is scheduled for 2 p.m.