Often, when athletes face a former team, they are so excited and pumped up for the game it can lead to a less than stellar performance. That was not the case with Jerrelle Benimon, a Georgetown transfer, who almost led the Towson Tigers to an upset victory over the No. 15 ranked Georgetown Hoyas on Saturday afternoon. Georgetown escaped the Verizon Center with a 46-40 win.
“I was pretty pumped up coming back to the Verizon Center,” said Benimon after the loss. “I think the Vermont game—a 68-64 win on Wednesday night—got me/us ready. I came in ready to try and play hard.” Benimon led all players with 16 rebounds and led the Tigers with 11 points. It was Benimon’s fourth double/double of the season.
Towson coach Pat Skerry realizes how important Benimon’s play is to his team’s success. “It helps having a great rebounder like Jerrelle on the floor. He obviously was a monster. He can be as good as any player we see on any given night. This week he took major, major strides forward in playing both ends of the floor and in being a leader.” Benimon came into the game having scored a career high 29 points in the win over Vermont.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball against aggressive defenses from each side. Towson outplayed Georgetown on defense and beat them on the boards. For the game, Towson held the Hoyas to .292 shooting from the field and outrebounded them 38-32. A key point in Georgetown holding off the Tigers in the second half was the amount of fouls called on the Tigers. Towson was whistled for 13 second half fouls to the Hoyas 6, leading to a disparity in free throw attempts, 17 for the Hoyas to 4 for the Tigers in the final stanza. “They obviously beat us at the free throw line. We’re a team that normally lives on the free throw line,” said Skerry.
This game’s final score will draw a lot of national attention due to the narrow margin of victory and the low scoring. Georgetown has struggled to score points recently, having scored only 37 in a 1 point win over Tennessee just 8 days ago at the Verizon Center. In that game, the Hoyas managed only .364 shooting from the field. The Hoyas hit only 5 of 30 shots in the first half against Towson for a unbelievable .167 percent. However, when asked if he’s worried if the Hoyas’ poor shooting will become a trend, coach John Thompson III responded, “when we get there I’ll let you know.”
Towson has to be a team full of confidence now. In its past two games the Tigers came from behind on the road to beat an NCAA Tournament team in Vermont, and played a perennial national power even into the final minutes in a Big East home court advantage environment. “I’m proud of how hard our guys played. We just fell a little bit short down the stretch. Our guys didn’t come down to lose, so there are no moral victories,” said Skerry.
With the effort Skerry is getting from the Tigers on a consistent night-in-night out-basis, it won’t be long before he’s talking about victories against teams like Georgetown and Temple, who the Tigers face on Wednesday night in Philadelphia.