Rewinding the night that was in college basketball in the Baltimore-Washington corridor …
FORTUNES RISING, TEAM
Towson. Things probably didn’t go quite as smoothly as Pat Skerry might have liked against Radford in the first of a four-games-in-four-days tournament in Kentucky.
The Tigers didn’t shoot free throws well. It committed 17 turnovers. And it beat Radford 75-67.
This is what it’s now come to for Towson. Unlike a year ago, when it was clearly overmatched and on its way to a 1-31 season, it can afford to quibble about shaky play in a variety of areas. There is, quite frankly, vastly more talent to work with than previously existed.
The addition of three Big East transfers helps —- and aided the Tigers’ first victory of the season. Ex-Georgetown forward Jerrelle Benimon had 19 points (and seven turnovers). Former South Florida guard Mike Burwell had 10 points. Grad student and Providence import Bilal Dixon snagged 10 rebounds.
A year ago, this result would be encouraging because the Tigers simply won. This year, it’s a welcome sign that even not at its peak, Towson led by at least seven throughout the second half while evening its record at 1-1.
FORTUNES RISING, INDIVIDUAL
Johnny Williams, George Mason. The Patriots, still down Erik Copes for one last game because of suspension, needed production from Williams. And the man teammates call J2 was more than ready to provide it in a 52-49 defeat of Mercer in the Paradise Jam.
Williams had 16 points and 10 rebounds (his first career double-double), playing 35 minutes in a game Mason (2-1) desperately needed on a couple levels. Mercer, last year’s College Insider Tournament champs, could turn out to be a top-100 team. And as the Patriots discovered last year, an early trip to the losers’ bracket in an exempt event takes away opportunities to play better (read: higher RPI) teams.
Williams will have more help going forward. Copes should return when Mason meets New Mexico on Sunday, though he’ll return to a frontcourt where Williams pieced together a crucial performance that could be a sign of things to come.
None. Morgan State (at South Carolina) and Maryland-Eastern Shore (at South Florida) both lost to power conference foes, which doesn’t qualify as a surprise. Morgan State gave it a good run, trailing by four at the break before fading to an 87-71 loss to the Gamecocks,
Assists for Maryland guard Pe’Shon Howard, just the 14th time in school history a player has reached that figure. Howard, who had only one turnover in 32 minutes, joins Steve Blake (6x), Greivis Vasquez (3x), Terrell Stokes (2x), Steve Francis and Keith Gatlin in the 13-assist club.
Maryland’s 91-74 defeat of Long Island featured a breakout game for swingman Dez Wells, who had 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals. [TWT] … George Mason survived its Paradise Jam opener despite not making any 3-pointers and committing 19 turnovers.
BEYOND THE CORRIDOR
It was a limited college basketball schedule, with only six Division I schools in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia in action.
A pair of NCAA tournament teams from last year, Loyola and Norfolk State, meet at noon in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Connecticut. … George Washington (0-1) plays its road opener against Boston University. … Howard’s swing through Midwest continues with a visit to Wichita State (3-0). …
Virginia (1-2) plays the first of three games in four days when Seattle comes to John Paul Jones Arena. … Coppin State (0-2) plays the first of back-to-back “Maui Invitational” games in the decidedly mainland locale of Elon, N.C. … Towson continues its tournament against host Eastern Kentucky.
—- Patrick Stevens