Poly Breaks St. Francis’ Heart

Towson ~ You’re teammates trusting you to hit the biggest shot of the game even though you hadn’t scored all night says a lot. That’s exactly what happened when Justin Lewis drew a double-team and threw a precision pass to Ian Wallace who hopped into it for a dagger 3-pointer over Jordan Toles with just just 15 seconds to go in the game.

“The first option option wasn’t there (and) of the course the plan was to get the ball to the rim,” Wallace said, “They closed in on Justin so I had to be ready to shoot the ball at the arc.”

The final tally being 59-58, Brandon Murray(game-high 22-points), Justin Lewis(16-points), and Rahim Ali(11-points) carried Poly to a thrilling marque victory over St. Francis. The Panthers were led by Rajeir Jones’ team-high 21-points, followed by Jamal West and his 15-points.

“Our program was built around wanting to test ourselves in games like tonight,” Poly head coach Sam Brand said, “St. Francis was one of the first of my AA teams that would play us. We been doing this six years now and its been a big time atmosphere and competitive game every time.”

Playing at SECU Arena and a college court, both Poly and St. Francis acclimated to the size and depth of a college arena and decidedly played some high level basketball. The Engineers and Panthers went back and forth for the entirety of the first half, with Poly grabbing their second lead of the game when Ali finished a layup off a Murray assist to make it 26-25 at the half. The third quarter is when the Panthers flexed their dominance with multiple different defensive looks to get the Engineers fit. It resulted in a 21-11 scoring quarter.

“We got it, it only takes one run,” Ali told his teammates “The game is a game of runs and I knew that ours was google to come. All that matters is we had the last run we was going to win.”

After being down by as many as 11-points late in the third frame, the Engineers methodically climbed their way back into the contest to steal victory. During the decisive fourth quarter the Engineers narrowed the lead down to 52-47 after a Murray dunk. After a quick spurt from from the Panthers to make it 56-50 the Engineers responded with their own 9-2 run. The run was punctuated by back to back three pointers, first from Murray to make it a one-possession game at 56-53. The latter coming from the aforementioned 3-pointer by Wallace. The play was a perfect amalgamation of Brand telling his players they’re all stars earlier in the day and anyone can make the winning play. Tole raced back down the court and drew a foul to get to the line but missed both free throws, and when Amani Walker missed the front end of a one and one, the Panthers again had another chance but couldn’t put down any of their point-blank tip in chances.

“We just knew we had to push” Murray said on the last run, “We all came together, the heart and the soul of the team is through everybody. It’s from one-14 and it’s not even just the starters it’s not (anybody) it’s all of us.”

Video courtesy of Brooks Warren

Towson Takes Down Loyola 85-69

Towson ~ The college basketball season is a marathon, not a sprint. A frustrating 0-3 outing at the Island of Bahamas Showcase had Towson Head Coach reminiscing about his first season at the school, a 31-loss season. Nevertheless, he made it clear that he was proud of his guys for their resiliency, especially in the last 10 minutes.

“It’s a work in progress,” Brian Forbes said, “It may take a while, but this game definitely helps especially with our spacing, moving the ball, not being stagnant.”

The Tigers came back from a seven-point deficit at the half to win 85-69 over Loyola. Fobbs andTobias Howard combined for 48 points in the win, 25 and 23 respectively. The two transfer guards are a part of the 10 new players on this squad, and proudly own the pressure and responsibilities of being the leaders of this team. Nakye Sanders, the third of the 10 players, joined them in double figures with 14points and added nine rebounds. Loyola was led by Andrew Kostecka, who scored a career-high 30 points.

“They run good offense,” Towson Head Coach PatSkerry said, “Anytime a guy drops 30 on you, you got trouble.”

It was a tale of two halves for the two Baltimore universities. Loyola was able to run their sets and execute their offense in an efficient manner, hitting on 51 percent shooting of their field goals, including knocking down seven 3-pointers at a 41percent clip. Astonishingly, out of their 17 field goals, 11 of them were assisted. Loyola was able to rip off a 14-5 run to take control of the game, creating a 36-28 advantage. At this moment five different Greyhounds scored, including Kostecka who scored seven points. The junior guard hit a 3-pointer off an assist from Kenneth Jones that gave Loyola a 25-24 lead, a steal-and-dunk, and a tip-in basket.

 “We try to pride ourselves on defense,” Skerry said, “But they’re a hard team to guard.”

The Greyhound formula of forcing catches away from the play and giving up little to no space on dribble-drives resulted in the Tigers initiating their offense deep in the shot clock and having to put up heavily contested shots. Fortunately, Towson hit 48 percent of their shots, but couldn’t hit the ocean from distance, only hitting three3-pointers out of 11. The Tigers turned it around on the Greyhounds, stiflingLoyola into 27 percent shooting from the field, and allowing two 3-point baskets. Towson grabbed the lead and never looked back during a 10-0 run, finished off by the aforementioned Fobbs-Timberlake 3-point connection. Loyola cut the lead to as close as four after a Chuck Champion backdoor layup made it66-62, but that was close as the Greyhounds would get. The Towson defense didn’t allow a single field goal to go down in the final 5:48 of the contest, forcing the Greyhounds offense to a halt. Loyola went 0-8 down the stretch.

“They set the tone in the second half,” Loyola head Coach Tavaras Hardy said, “Thought we did things offensively in the first half that was difficult for them to guard but the second half they were able to get us out of our rhythm. “