Towson had four players score in double figures and the preseason favorites in the Colonial Athletic Association remained undefeated in conference play with a 72-57 win over College of Charleston on Sunday afternoon at TD Arena.
The Cougars (10-9) moved to 2-2 in conference play as CofC has alternated wins and losses through the first four of its CAA games. Towson (12-6, 3-0) stayed atop the league standings with the road win.
Charleston came within two points at halftime, 31-29, but the Tigers' defense slowed CofC in the second half and Towson held a double-digit advantage for the final eight minutes of regulation.
Towson shot 42.9 percent (24-of-56) from the field, while the Cougars were held to just 33.3 percent (20-of-60) shooting. The Tigers converted 10 CofC turnovers into 18 points, although Charleston's aggressiveness on the offensive boards led to 17 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points.
Graduate senior forward Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) posted a workman-like performance with 20 points, 12 rebounds (six offensive) and four three-pointers. The game was his seventh double-double this season, currently the third-most in the CAA.
Junior big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) scored 15 points with nine rebounds, shooting 7-of-11 from the field.
Towson was led by preseason CAA Player of the Year Jerelle Benimon's 21 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Burwell scored 18 points with three assists, while Rafriel Guthrie had 14 points, including 7-of-10 from the charity stripe off the bench. Vermont transfer Four McGlynn scored 11 points on three treys.
Baru gave CofC a four-point lead with consecutive buckets in the paint, 21-17, at the 9:52 minute mark of the first half. However, both teams' offenses went cold for a period as the defenses held stout for just one field goal over the next five minutes.
Towson's McGlynn hit two three-pointers late to build a 31-25 Towson lead with 2:14 remaining in the half. Charleston rallied with a second-chance layup from Hall with a minute left and then a layup from Baru as time expired, making the halftime score, 31-29.
After a missed alley-oop dunk to start the second half by Baru, Towson slowly built a lead that reached 43-34 at the 14:46 mark after a layup from Timajh Parker-Rivera. CofC fought to keep the margin in single digits with free throws from senior small forward Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and a layup from Baru, making it 48-41 with 10:45 left.
Towson, however, used a 9-0 run over the next five minutes to open a 16-point lead and effectively put the game away. The Tigers converted from the free throw line to stymie any Cougar momentum.
CofC will next host UNC Wilmington (6-14, 0-5 CAA) for a mid-week conference tilt on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. The game will be televised regionally on CSS.
· For the first time this season, the Cougars used the starting lineup of junior guard Anthony Stitt, senior combo guard Nori Johnson, senior small forward Anthony Thomas, graduate senior forward Willis Hall and junior forward Adjehi Baru (0-1). It marked Johnson's first start of the season and 17th of his career.
· Towson evens the all-time series with College of Charleston to 2-2 avenging a 75-58 loss to the Cougars in non-conference play in both teams' 2012-13 season opener.
· Willis Hall turned in his seventh double-double of the season with a team-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. It marked his sixth career 20-point outing. He went 4-for-9 from beyond the arc starting 3-for-3 against Towson making seven straight extending from the Northeastern game (4-for-4) on Jan. 13.
· CofC tied Towson in the rebounding war, 40-40. Both teams entered the contest ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the CAA in rebounding.
· The Cougars shot a league season-low 33.3 percent from the floor (20-of-60) against Towson.
· Adjehi Baru fell short of a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. It marked his 28th career game in double figures and ninth of the season.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the loss …
"It was a very disappointing performance from me, my staff and my team. I thought, from the very beginning of the game, we gave up an offensive rebound on the first possession. We just didn't get the loose balls. We end up tying in the rebounding margin, but that's because we shot so poorly – 33 percent for the game. Give them (Towson) credit. They came in here with a mission. We beat them pretty good here last year. They have some really good players. (Jerelle) Benimon played well, but their guards really hurt us. (Mike) Burwell hurt us and Rafriel Guthrie off the bench got 14 points. So, it was a very disappointing performance. We had a great crowd today. I apologize to the fans that came out and gave up the football game to be here. It was supposed to be for at least a tie for second place in the league, and now, we're back to square one. We have to scratch and claw every time from here-on-out the rest of the year."
College of Charleston Graduate Senior Forward Willis Hall
On the team's shooting …
"Coach (Wojcik) said it best, at that one segment where we got three offensive rebounds in a row, we just couldn't convert. At that point, you've got to find something, you have to attack the hole, make shots, one way or the other."