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Towson tops Bloomsburg in exhibition debut at new arena

Posted on 24 October 2013 by WNST Staff

Tigers Open SECU Arena With Exhibition Victory
Benimon, Burwell combine for 34 points as Towson pulls away for 86-65 win


TOWSON, Md. 
 – The Towson University men’s basketball team played its first game in the brand new SECU Arena on Thursday night, downing Bloomsburg (Pa.) University, 86-65, in the first of two exhibition games for the Tigers.

The senior duo of Mike Burwell and Jerrelle Benimon led the way for the Towson, combining for 34 points and 13 rebounds. Twelve different Tigers saw action in the exhibition, with nine scoring at least three points.

After a close first half, Towson stepped up its defensive efforts in the final 20 minutes. The Tigers limited Bloomsburg to just six field goals on 24 percent shooting in the final stanza. Towson also took advantage of a dominant effort from the free throw line, making 38 of 53 from the charity stripe, including 14-for-18 shooting from Benimon.

Sophomore Jerome Hairston was also in double figures for the Tigers with 11 points to go along with a team-high tying three assists. In his first action in a Towson uniform, sophomore transfer Four McGlynn tallied nine points, including a three-pointer and four-for-four shooting from the free throw line.

Led by Dontahe Jordan and Jon Riles, Bloomsburg opened the game hitting seven of its first 14 field goal attempts and raced out to an early 18-8 lead. Towson methodically clawed its way back into the game, going on an 18-5 run over a span of 7:27 to take a 26-23 lead that was punctuated by freshman John Davis’ dunk with 5:25 to play in the opening half. However, the Tigers would trail 40-39 at the intermission.

In the second half, Towson took control for good. The home team recaptured the lead at 49-48 on freshman forward Walter Foster’s block and transition dunk on the other end of the floor. That sequence sparked a 20-7 Tigers run and Towson led 69-55 with just under eight minutes to play. The Tigers would lead by as many as 26 in the second half.

For the game, Towson shot 40.7 percent (22-of54) and held a 51-31 rebounding advantage. The Tigers also forced 22 turnovers and scored 28 points off those miscues.

Burwell finished with a game-high 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Senior Marcus Damas chipped in nine points, while classmate Rafriel Guthrie added eight points and a team-high tying seven rebounds.

Bloomsburg was led by Riles’ 16 points, including 4-for-5 shooting from three-point range.

The Tigers wrap up their exhibition schedule next Wednesday at home against Mansfield. Tip time is set for 7:30 p.m. from SECU Arena.

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Towson plays first exhibition game Thursday against Bloomsburg

Posted on 23 October 2013 by WNST Staff

SETTING THE STAGE: The Towson men’s basketball team will host Bloomsburg University on Thursday in its first exhibition game of the season. The game, set to tip at 7:30 p.m., will be the first Tiger men’s basketball game played inside brand new SECU Arena.

PRESEASON HONORS: Towson, which returns four starters from last year’s 18-13 team, has been picked to win the CAA men’s basketball championship in 2013-14 according to a vote of the league’s coaches, media relations directors and media members. The results of the poll were announced during Tuesday’s CAA Basketball Media Day in Baltimore, Md. Additionally, senior Jerrelle Benimon was named as the leagues Preseason Player of the Year.

WELCOME BACK: Towson returns four of five starters and 85 percent of its scoring from a year ago. Leading the charge will be reining CAA Player of the Year Benimon, who averaged 17.1 points and 11.2 rebounds per game last season. The Tigers return three other seniors in Marcus Damas, Mike Burwell and Rafriel Guthrie. CAA All-Rookie Team selection Jerome Hairston and sophomore forward Timajh Parker-Rivera are expected to also be big contributors this season. The Tigers also return junior Jamel Flash and redshirt freshmen Marquis Marshall andBarrington Alston. After sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules, sophomore Four McGlynn will be eligible to play this season.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENT: Bloomsburg University is a Division II school located in Pennsylvania. The Huskies are members of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and are coming off an 8-19 season.

WHAT’S ON TAP: The Tigers will host Mansfield University for an exhibition game on October 30 at 7:30 p.m. inside SECU Arena. That game will serve as a final tune-up before Towson opens the season at home against Navy on November 8 at 7:30 p.m.

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Balanced effort helps Towson to easy exhibition win over Bloomsburg

Posted on 01 November 2012 by WNST Staff

Towson Cruises Past Bloomsburg in Exhibition Opener, 87-65

Entire Starting Five Tallies Double Figures in Scoring for the Tigers

TOWSON, Md. – The Towson University men’s basketball team saw all five starters score in double figures as the Tigers rolled past Bloomsburg University, 87-65, in the exhibition opener for both squads at the Towson Center on Thursday evening.

Junior Mike Burwell led all scorers with 16 points, including 4-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Classmate Jerrelle Benimon filled the stat sheet with 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting, a game-high seven assists and five rebounds.

“We did some things offensively tonight which were not surprising because we have the ability to score,” said Towson head coach Pat Skerry. “Our defense has miles to go. We’re nowhere near where we need to be. I love our guys though and the work and effort that they’ve put in. I think our upside can be pretty good.”

Towson shot 63.0 percent from the field in the first half and 55.9 percent for the game. The Tigers won the rebounding battle 37-27 and dished out 17 assists to just 12 turnovers.

Also in double figures for the Tigers were freshman Jerome Hairston (15), graduate student Bilal Dixon (12) and junior Marcus Damas (10). Dixon did not miss any of the four shots he attempted and also pulled down a game-high seven rebounds.

Sophomore Kris Walden tallied seven points and swiped a game-high tying two steals, while junior Rafriel Guthrie posted five points and six rebounds in 19 minutes of action.

Towson, which never trailed after the 16:20 mark of the opening half, dominated in the paint, 46-22, and led 23-12 in points off turnover.

Lorenzo Christmas led three Huskies in double figures with 16 points to go along with four rebounds.

The Tigers will open up regular season play next at the College of Charleston on November 9. The Cougars won 19 games last season and were picked to finish second in the south division of the Southern Conference.

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Towson plays exhibition Thursday night against Bloomsburg

Posted on 31 October 2012 by WNST Staff

TOWSON MEN’S BASKETBALL SET TO OPEN 2012-13 SEASON WITH HOME EXHIBITION THURSDAY

The Tigers Will Face Bloomsburg University at 7 p.m. Inside the Towson Center Arena – Admission is Free
TOWSON, Md. - The Towson men’s basketball team is set to open its 2012-13 season on Thursday as the Tigers host Bloomsburg University in an exhibition game inside the Towson Center Arena.

This will be the first of two exhibition games for the Tigers, who also host Goldey-Beacom College on November 12.

Tip off for both exhibitions is set for 7 p.m. and admission is free.

 

2012-13 SEASON OUTLOOK

Head coach Pat Skerry enters his second season at the helm of the Tiger men’s basketball program with a great deal of optimism surrounding the future of his team. Skerry used his first year at Towson to establish a new culture around the program. While the record on the basketball court last year didn’t show it, the Tigers were significantly better both defensively and in rebounding – two elements that Skerry emphasizes the most with his team.

The majority of the 2012-13 Towson roster is made up of newcomers that will provide a significant upgrade in talent. The Tigers return only three lettermen, but two were starters and led the 2011-12 team in numerous categories.

Junior forward Marcus Damas ranked among the top 20 in the Colonial Athletic Association in scoring (12.5 ppg) and rebounding (5.3 rpg) a year ago, while sophomore guard Kris Walden contributed 6.6 points per game and led the squad in assists (3.2 apg) and steals (1.3 spg).

Three Division I transfers are expected to have an immediate impact in the frontcourt. Jerrelle Benimon, a 6-8 junior from Georgetown, will provide scoring and rebounding at power forward. Mike Burwell, a 6-5 junior from the University of South Florida, is a strong shooter from the wing with a wealth of experience. At center is 6-9 Bilal Dixon, who made 68 starts over three seasons at Providence College. Freshmen Jerome Hairston, Barrington Alston and Timajh Parker-Rivera and junior Rafriel Guthrie will also see significant action.

 

Backcourt

Depth was a major issue in the Tiger backcourt a year ago. Well, that won’t be the case this season. Towson returns a pair of starters in Walden and Damas, while Burwell becomes eligible after his sit-out season. Hairston and Guthrie will also see significant action in the backcourt.

“We have five perimeter guys for three spots and that will bring about some competition in practice,” said Skerry. “It’s my opinion that guys get better when they get pushed and that certainly will be the case with our guards this year.”

Burwell is the most experienced of the group as he saw action in 50 games while at South Florida. Walden and Damas ranked first and second in minutes per game last year for the Tigers, so they also know what their head coach expects.

“Mike is probably our most versatile guy,” said Skerry. “He had a good offseason for us and we’re expecting real big things. We need Mike to be a guy that can do it all. He has to make shots, take care of the ball, rebound better, defend consistently and also be a leader.”

Damas is Towson’s leading returner in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. After an offseason in which he’s improved his body and conditioning, the coaching staff is expecting a breakout year from the junior.

“He will obviously play a lot and he’s improved a lot,” said Skerry. “His strength and shot have both gotten better. He can score the ball for us, but we need him to be a consistent defender and a junkyard dog type of guy too.”

Walden, who played nearly every minute last season at the point guard position, will now split time between the two guard spots. The sophomore led all CAA freshmen in minutes played and assists per game during his rookie season.

“We didn’t give Kris a lot of help last year, but he proved he can play at this level and he can become a good shooter,” said Skerry. “We’re happy because he’s also improved over the summer. Kris’ main focus will be limiting turnovers and defending.”

Hairston and Guthrie provide a pair of fresh faces in the Tiger backcourt. Hairston comes to Towson rated as the No. 114 overall prospect in the country according to Rivals.com. His playmaking abilities should allow him to see playing time early and often. Guthrie is a physical wing player who fits the Skerry mold of a player that can defend and has a motor that never stops. Guthrie comes to Towson from a winning program at the College of Southern Idaho and his versatility could allow him to see significant minutes for the Tigers this season.

“Jerome is very gifted with good size, athleticism and he’s a superb passer,” said Skerry. “He’s great in the open court and we sorely need that. He is starting to learn how to run a team at this level.

“Rafriel will give us toughness and experience,” Skerry continued. He’s a lockdown defender that can rebound from the small forward spot and give us even more versatility.”

 

Frontcourt

Size and athleticism won’t be a problem for the Tigers in the frontcourt as Benimon and Dixon lead the way.

Dixon played in 94 games and started 68 for Providence College from 2009-to-2012 before coming to Towson for his final season. Now, in the best shape of his career, Dixon is ready to hold down the center position for the Tigers.

Benimon is described by Skerry as “a guy that can do everything well”. After two seasons at Georgetown, Benimon has improved his game vastly and will be counted on as one of the go-to guys on the team.

“We’re certainly much deeper than we were a year ago in the frontcourt,” said Skerry. “Those guys can score, rebound and give us a measure of physicality. They both have big, athletic bodies. And perhaps most importantly, they give us experience.”

Skerry is also excited about the additions of freshmen Barrington Alston and Timajh Parker-Rivera. Both have been enrolled at Towson and practicing since the summer and have improved vastly through skill work.

“They have a chance to be excellent players here,” said Skerry. “Both are wired the right way. They have motors that never stop and they’re athletic, tough and play really hard.”

Red-shirt sophomore Jamel Flash will also be in the mix to compete for playing time in the frontcourt as he’s improved immensely since the end last season.

“He’s pretty much a different person from last year,” said Skerry. “He’s maybe my favorite guy because he’s worked that hard to improve. We feel that he can really help us this year because he’s worked his tail off to become stronger. He could really surprise some people.”

 

Schedule

A year after playing the toughest non-conference schedule in the Colonial Athletic Association, the Tigers will once again challenge themselves throughout the year by playing some of the top teams in the region and country.

During the non-conference portion of their 2012-13 schedule, the Tigers will play 13 games, including four contests against teams that qualified for the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Towson will face teams from 12 different conferences during this year’s slate of non-league games, including teams from the BIG EAST, Pac-12 and Atlantic-10.

“Our non-conference schedule will once again challenge us from beginning to end,” said Skerry. “We face a number of really good teams from a number of quality conferences. I think the caliber of teams we’ll go up against will prepare our guys for the rigors of CAA play.”

Some of the marquee games on the schedule include contests at Georgetown, Temple and Oregon State. The Tigers will also play in the 2012 Comfort Suites Invitational, a tournament that will match them up against Radford, Eastern Kentucky and Kennesaw State.

Towson will continue to renew local rivalries with games against Loyola, UMBC and Coppin State on the schedule.

The CAA slate of games for the Tigers will once again be extremely challenging as the league has become one of the top basketball conferences in the country. The Tigers will host George Mason, Delaware and defending regular season champion Drexel, while going on the road to take on Old Dominion, Delaware and many more conference heavyweights.

This 2012-13 slate of home games will be the final ones played in the Towson Center as the state-of-the-art Tiger Arena is set to open in the spring of 2013. Towson will host Hofstra on March 2 and that will mark the final game played in the Towson Center.

 

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