Towson close, but loses 46-40 to No. 15 Georgetown

After going 1-31 last season, Towson retained only three

scholarship players and added three transfers from the Big East.

The Tigers also put together a schedule that was something –

literally – to write home about, opening with 10 straight games on

the road.

They’re off to a decent start, and Game No. 9 was nearly a major

upset. Towson stayed close the entire way before falling 46-40 to

cold-shooting No. 15 Georgetown.

”The biggest thing is our new and better players,” Towson

coach Pat Skerry said. ”When you get good players, it makes you

look like a pretty good coach.”

The best of the new arrivals was an ace in the hole against the

Hoyas. Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon had 11 points and 16

rebounds to lead the Tigers (4-5), and he played traffic cop on

defense for a team that often seemed to know what was coming from

the Princeton Offense.

”I could read stuff. I played in the offense, so it’s just a

whole bunch of reads, so once you see one thing you can sniff it

out,” Benimon said. ”It helped a lot, especially in the first

half.”

The Tigers held the Hoyas (7-1) to 17 percent shooting in the

first half and 29 percent for the game, but Towson was undone by 22

turnovers and a 33 percent shooting performance that was only a

little better than Georgetown’s.

With the game on the line, the Tigers’ final possessions were a

hodgepodge of turnovers and air balls. Towson’s final points came

on a 3-pointer from freshman point guard Jerome Hairston that cut

the Hoyas’ lead to 42-40 with 4:35 to play.

”It was one of those games where we said, `Let’s try to make it

as ugly as possible,”’ Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.

”This group, we can win a lot of different ways. We can win at a

fast pace. We can win at a slow pace. We can win what purists may

call pretty. But we can also win ugly, and I thought that in the

second half we had to win ugly today.”

If that’s the case, the strategy was a roaring success.

Georgetown managed to win despite its second clankfest in eight

days. The Hoyas set the school record for scoring futility in the

shot clock era with a 37-36 win over Tennessee – a game Thompson

compared to one he played when he was 8 years old.

This time, he was more defensive about the offensiveness of his

offense. He said he was concerned about the lack of scoring, but

not overly concerned. He insisted he has ”good offensive

players,” but he said they are ”immature offensively” and ”have

a lot of growing up to do.”

”We have a lot of guys that are thinking, trying to figure out

where to go, what to do, what reads to make,” Thompson said.

”It’s something we have to work on.”

Greg Whittington scored 11 points, and Mikael Hopkins and Otto

Porter had 10 apiece for the Hoyas, whose only loss came in

overtime against No. 1 Indiana. Towson was the first of four home

opponents in the soft part of the schedule that, in theory, is

supposed to give Thompson a chance to give his bench some

much-needed work, but Tigers showed they are no longer a punch line

of a team.

”We got some talent and they compete pretty hard,” Skerry

said, ”and as we get more and more cohesive, I think we have a

change of having a pretty good ball club and obviously build a

special program.”

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP