Thursday, February 2, 2012

Turnovers, Blown Whistles and Bill Murray (Recap of Towson vs. Hofstra)

When Towson defeated UNCW last Saturday, the Tigers ended their NCAA record forty one game losing streak. With the win, Towson entered a tie for eleventh place in the CAA with Hofstra.  The Pride had just lost earlier in the day at Northeastern.  Both teams entered last night's game with a 1-10 conference record.

One team at the end of the night would be in eleventh place and the other team would be in the cellar.  As my older son and I walked toward the Mack Center entrance,  Matthew turned to me and said "I really hope Hofstra wins so they don't go into last place".  Leave it to a six year old to sum up most Pride fans' feelings in a nutshell.

For the second season in a row, the Mack Center entertained a special guest, one Bill Murray.  Murray's son, Luke is now an assistant coach with Towson.  Last season, he was an assistant for Wagner when they played Hofstra in a December non conference game. His dad watched the Pride hold off the Seahawks.  Last night,   his dad was sitting in the first row behind the Towson bench.   There's no truth to the rumor that he gave the Tigers Team his inspirational speech, "It Just Doesn't Matter" as the pep talk before the game.

It was quite appropriate that Bill Murray was in attendance last night, because the first twelve to thirteen minutes of the game were quite comical.  You had the Tigers, who couldn't hold onto the ball and the Pride who couldn't shoot the ball.   Towson turned the ball over on each of their first four possessions and had thirteen turnovers in thirteen minutes.

Meanwhile, during the same stretch, Hofstra couldn't take advantage as they seemingly couldn't put the ball in the ocean.  The Pride shot six of twenty one during the first thirteen minutes.  Amazingly, Hofstra was only up 18-9 with seven minutes left in the half.

The Pride extended the lead out to fifteen, 33-18 at the half.  Still the numbers were brutal. Towson had more turnovers, nineteen, then points or rebounds (also eighteen).   Both teams had sixteen free throw attempts.  Towson missed ten of them while Hofstra missed six of their own.   Towson shot a respectable forty two percent, but that's when they could get off a shot, as they only had fourteen field goal attempts in the first half.  Yes, that means they only had six field goals in the first twenty minutes.  Hofstra had thirty three field goal attempts, but only hit eleven of them.  My friend Tieff called it "The Good (Bill Murray), The Bad (Hofstra) and the Ugly (Towson)."

Towson actually brought a few fans for the game as they cheered early on behind the Tigers bench.  During halftime, I wondered what Bill Murray was doing to entertain them. Was he Nick Winters singing the Star Wars theme or was he just in town because it was Groundhog Day on Wednesday .  Perhaps he went into the Towson locker room and gave a halftime pep speech, this time the one from Stripes. Oh the possibilities.

We decided at halftime to join my good friend, DefiantlyDutch and his better half Michelle in their seats behind the Hofstra basket. However, I was told by the Dutchman that if we brought bad karma and the lead got under ten points, we would be forced to go back to our regular seats.  Sure enough, Towson went out on a 7-2 spurt and cut the lead to ten, 35-25.

But just as the Dutchman was getting ready to toss us out, Hofstra responded with a 13-0 run over the next three minutes. Nathaniel Lester and Mike Moore were responsible for all thirteen points scored in that run. Also during that run, Lester scored his 1000th career point on a free throw.  Lester received a standing ovation from the crowd.

The score was 48-25 and all that was left was to see if Lester and Moore together could outscore the entire Towson team. And for a good part of the second half, the two Hofstra players were leading the entire Tigers team as Moore and Lester combined to score forty eight points.  However, a late three pointer by Christian Collins made the final score Towson 49 Moore and Lester 47.    Unfortunately for the Tigers, Hofstra had an additional twenty seven points as the Pride defeated them 74-49.

It had been a long game due to the forty four fouls called, the forty nine combined free throw attempts and the twenty seven Towson turnovers.  In fact, last night, all the CAA games started at 7:00 PM Eastern time. The Hofstra-Towson game was the last one to finish by a good margin. There were more whistles in this game than Salma Hayek walking past a construction site.

Moore had twenty eight points and Lester added nineteen.  The Pride also had twenty offensive rebounds, one more than defensive rebounds.  Walk-on Matt Grogan had a career high six points. Erique Gumbs had twelve points and Kris Walden had ten points.

It was the twentieth time in twenty four games that Towson scored under sixty points on the season.  The Tigers were now back in sole possession of last place in the CAA.  As Bill Murray left the Mack Center, I wonder if he was saying to himself  "It just doesn't matter."

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