March 5, 2012 2:05 pm ET by Gary Moore
Game #8-700: Towson Tigers vs. Delaware Blue HensMarch 2, 2012 2:30 pm
In the second game of the afternoon session of the CAA Tournament, Delaware took on Towson. The game seemed like a foregone conclusion as the Tigers had one win all season. But they had played the Blue Hens close in both of their games. When Defiantly Dutch and I came back from the UNCW - James Madison post game conference, Delaware was only up 7-5. Six minutes later it was 18-9. Four minutes later it was 30-13. As expected, the Blue Hens were pulling away from the Tigers.
In the scariest moment of the day, during the first half, there was a battle for a rebound and a Towson player fell with all his weight on Delaware's Hakim McCullar, who was slammed to the floor with a loud sickening noise. The Richmond Coliseum crowd went completely silent for several minutes as McCullar lay motionless for a few minutes. Then he sat up for a few minutes, then the Delaware staff helped him walk off the court. He ended up having concussion-like symptoms, but thankfully was okay otherwise.
Towson was able to cut the deficit to 11 at the half. That's because they played with a lot of effort. They just couldn't put the ball in the basket in the first half as they shot 7/33 from the field.
No one exemplified the above statement more than Tigers senior forward Robert Nwankwo. For 40 minutes, he got offensive rebound after offensive rebound. But either he missed the followup shot or he was fouled. Nwankwo was 8/22 from the field on the day. However, he was 11/15 from the line.
Towson continued to chip away in the second half as they started finally hitting their shots. With about seven and a half minutes remaining, the unthinkable occurred. The Tigers' Deon Jones hit a jumper and Towson had come all the way back to tie the score at 53. Delaware's Devon Saddler responded by burying a three pointer. The Tigers had a chance to tie a few minutes later. But Nwanko missed a jumper and that was their last opportunity to tie the game.
Delaware was too strong from the foul line as they hit 27 of 38 free throw attempts. In the end, Delaware had a 72-65 win. Saddler led all scorers with 28 points and was four of nine from beyond the arc. Jarvis Threatt, who reminds me so much of Loren Stokes, who used to play for Hofstra, added 15 points, nine of which came from the line. Josh Brinkley added fourteen points.
The Tigers dominated the glass, outrebounding the Blue Hens 51-33. Towson had 24 offensive rebounds, 12 came from Nwankwo. Nwankwo's final stat line was 27 points and 20 rebounds. It was the first 20-20 stat line in the history of the CAA Tournament and the 20 rebounds tied the CAA Tournament record which is also held by Larry Sanders in the 2009 CAA Championship game.
For the second year in a row, the Tigers played a very close #5-#12 game, but again came up short. But as Coach Monte Ross said about Towson, "You wouldn't know their record by the way they play." Nwanko, a senior, talked about how the young players needed to have listened to Coach Ross sooner in the season about the effort necessary to win. If you were at the press conference, one could see that he really cared about his team's play and the development of the younger players. You wished Nwankwo could play another season so that he could be a part of the development of Towson. However, he will have to watch them from afar next season, even if it seems like his heart will always be with them.
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