Final re-cap: A week ago tonight, the Towson Tigers started a 3-game stretch against George Mason (home), Northeastern (away) and Virginia Commonwealth (home). Those three teams are generally regarded as the top three in the CAA this season. A week ago tonight, I wrote, “we’ll learn a lot about Towson over the next three games.”
Those three games have come and gone and the Tigers went 0-3, culminating the stretch with a 78-71 loss at the Towson Center tonight. What did it prove? I’d say it shows that Towson’s not ready to step up into the elite category in the CAA. But this evening’s performance showed Pat Kennedy some signs that his Tigers just might be improving as they roll into the thick of the conference schedule that culminates with the CAA tournament in March.
Good players carry their teams when necessary and that’s what All-CAA guard Eric Maynor did tonight for VCU, scoring 27 points and adding 9 assists to help improve VCU to 12-5 overall and 5-1 in conference play.
Towson (7-11, 2-4/CAA) cut an 11-point second half deficit to four points with 1:21 remaining in the game but couldn’t get any closer down the stretch.
Despite the defeat, Towson gave a representative effort tonight. Foul trouble (Nwankwo, Franklin…both picked up their 4th fouls early in the second half) and foul shooting plagued Towson in the second half, but the Tigers fought the entire 40 minutes this evening. In previous games against quality opponents, that wasn’t always the case. Tonight, though, Towson fought a very good VCU team right down to the final whistle.
Josh Thornton led the Tigers with 20 points while Junior Hairston chipped in 19.
Update #7 – It looks like that elusive “marquee win” for Towson isn’t going to come tonight. Unless they stage a major rally here at the Towson Center…Tigers trail 71-61 with 2:29 to go in the game. It’s just been too much Eric Maynor tonight for VCU. He’s been the complete difference in the game. Back with the final wrap-up in a few. A miracle finish in store? That would be nice.
Update #6 – VCU leads 54-47 with 9:00 to play in the game. Junior Hairston is out of the game after taking an elbow to the eye and Larry Sanders is taking advantage of that with four quick points. Towson is hanging around, though, and this is their best effort against a quality team in the ’08-09 season.
Update #5 – Towson is still within single digits, but we’ve played five minutes of the second half and the VCU Rams still hold a comfortable 8-point advantage at 45-37. Robert Nwankwo and Troy Franklin both picked up their 4th fouls respectively just minutes into the second half, so an out-sized Towson lineup has now turned to Rocky Coleman and Josh Thornton to help pick up the pace in transition.
Eric Maynor leads VCU with 16 points.
Update #4 – It’s VCU 37-Towson 32 at the half. It’s just been too much Eric Maynor, period. The senior guard leads the Rams with 14 points and 5 assists, while Towson’s top point getter is Josh Thornton with 10.
Pat Kennedy has to be pleased with his team’s effort thus far, as the Rams (4-1/CAA) have outplayed the Tigers for the most part but Towson remains very much in the game.
Towson just needs to find someone to stop Maynor – or, at the very least, limit him – and keep Larry Sanders from controlling the boards for VCU.
By far, though, this is Towson’s best first half against a quality opponent since they played at Villanova on November 26 and trailed by five at the half at The Palestra.
Update #3 – Towson’s hanging tough but it’s been too much Eric Maynor in the last five minutes as VCU holds on to 34-29 lead with 2:50 to go in the first half. Maynor turned it over twice in three trips down the floor, but he also tossed in five points in VCU’s next two possessions.
Larry Sanders has been relatively quiet for the Rams tonight, although he does have six rebounds thus far. Tony Durant has just checked in the game to go head-to-head with Sanders in the final two minutes of the half. Should be interesting…
Update #2 – Things have settled down a bit now. After combining for 27 points in the first 5 minutes, Towson and VCU have put only 7 points on the board in the four minutes since…and it’s 19-15 in favor of VCU with 11:20 left in the first half.
Towson’s put together a decent first nine minutes, though. They’re playing hard at both ends and they don’t look intimidated by VCU, despite the fact that the Rams have two of the CAA’s best players in Eric Maynor and Larry Sanders.
VCU started the game in a full-court press defensively, but they’ve eased off of that now.
Back with more in a little bit.
Update #1 — I hope you didn’t bet the under.
It’s Towson 14-VCU 13 – and we’re barely five minutes into the game tonight at the Towson Center.
This has been a good start for the Tigers.
No early foul trouble to speak of. They’re shooting the ball well. And VCU isn’t shooting well.
But Eric Maynor, the All-CAA point guard, is slicing through the Tigers’ defense with ease.
It will be a long night if that continues.
Back with more…
But Towson’s looking good so far. Lots of energy at both ends. It’s good to see.