By Courtney Ott, Sports Editor, and Jake Shindel, men’s basketball reporter
Towson men’s basketball runs on Christian May.
The sophomore guard scored a career-high 27 points on an efficient 8-for-11 shooting while recording a steal for Towson’s defense in Wednesday’s game against the University of Massachusetts.
As a whole, Towson’s defense recorded seven steals and six blocks. The effort helped Towson (4-5) defeat UMass (4-2), 81-71, and earn a victory for the second year in a row as part of a home-and-home series.
“I had a slow start to the season; I was kind of in my head a little bit,” May said. “It was a great team win tonight. I’m not really worried about what I did; I’m glad that we just won. I knew I was going to get out of my slump. We’re just going to keep this thing rolling now.”
Guard Dylan Williamson also put up a career-high in points on Wednesday, finishing with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Williamson and May’s efficient numbers led to a season-high 48.1% field goal percentage for Towson.
Towson led UMass 36-27 at halftime, with Williamson and May combining for 15 points. The duo got going in the second half, a welcomed sight for Williamson, who only scored in double figures twice before the UMass win.
“I’m just happy to get going,” Williamson said. “We started off slow, but I’m just happy we got it going, happy to get a win… We just have to be aggressive. We started in a little slump, we just have to be aggressive. Find each other, find our guys, and just keep it going.”
The Tigers started to ease up in the second half, allowing UMass to fight back to a five-point deficit, but the defense stepped up for the Tigers, who used their length to record multiple key defensive stops.
Foul trouble was an issue for both sides on Wednesday, with 43 combined fouls called on the two teams. Towson shot 23-for-34 from the charity stripe, while UMass shot 14-for-20. The foul trouble, in addition to guards Rahdir Hicks and Nendah Tarke missing the game, turned center Charles Thompson into a point guard on some possessions.
Point Thompson was not an issue for Towson, who only had 11 turnovers against a UMass team that forces 16 turnovers per game.
“We’re thin on guards, we had a lot of foul trouble,” head coach Pat Skerry said. “We do trust Charles; we ask him to do a lot. They are very good at pressuring the ball. Tonight, we took care of the ball… 11 points, 10 rebounds, and [Thompson] did a great job on their leading scorer. Only had eight [points] and three [rebounds].”
Thompson accounted for three blocks and two steals to lock down forward Josh Cohen, who averaged a team-high 18.6 points entering Wednesday’s contest. Guard Keon Thompson led the way for UMass with 19 points, trailed closely by forward Matt Cross’ 17 points.
After the game, Skerry announced that Nendah Tarke will play for Towson soon. He hasn’t played at all this season as he awaits an NCAA decision on a waiver to play immediately. Tarke’s next chance to play is Saturday at UMBC. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
“We don’t have all the details yet,” Skerry said. “We are going to get Nendah Tarke back. We’re very excited about that. Really want to thank Terry Porter and Steve Eigenbrot for working out the details as we speak. It’s a day-by-day thing, but he will get on the floor very soon.