On Saturday live from the Odyssey Arena in Ireland, the Towson Tigers (7-1), coming in on a hot 7-game winning streak, faces off against the Manhattan Jaspers (3-2) in the Belfast Classic Championship game.
The Manhattan Jaspers brought the cheerleaders and the band to the party in Ireland, but not their best player, Rich Williams, because he left his passport at home. Despite Eddie Keith’s 3 pointer to start the game, the Tigers couldn’t have started worse against the Jaspers. Pressing early, Manhattan captilized off of 6 early turnovers scoring 12 points off of them as they took an early 14-8 lead.
The Tigers tried getting back into the game on numerous occasions but failed to do so for the most part in the first half due to turnovers (14). They enjoyed a quick 6 point run to bring them close 25-21 with 2:05 in the first half, but by halftime they were again trailing, this time by their largest margin of 9.
This is the first time the Tigers have trailed at halftime all season. Manhattan shot a wonderful 52 percent from the field in the first half, banging five 3 pointers. They also forced 14 Towson turnovers which helped get them out to an early lead. Again, Zane Martin and Mike Morsell led the way in scoring, 7 and 6 respectively.
Towson started off the second half with 6 straight points, proving once again that they will fight. The lead closed to 3, but also opened back up to 5 points after Manhattan buckets. The Tigers defense was better in the second half, and that 5 point deficit was the largest for the Tigers in the half.
Towson officially erased the 13-point first half deficit when they tied the game up at 41. They tied the game up again at 47 after a Zane Martin lay up, but Manhattan’s Zavier Turner 3 pointer gave the Jaspers another lead 50-47, their last true lead of the game.
Tied at 50, a wild sequence of events that ended with a Zane Martin layup gave the Tigers a 52-50 lead with 2:22 to go. Then Calvin Crawford for the Jaspers went on a 5-0 individual scoring run to take a 3 point lead late in the game. Zane Martin scored on a layup with 50 seconds left.
Manhattan gave up the ball with 26 seconds left to give Towson one last chance. Both Morman and Morsell missed a go ahead shot before Mike Morsell buried a jumper from the right corner to take the lead 56-55 with 1.8 seconds left on the clock. There were a lot of turnovers for both teams, but the best one was the last one when Eddie Keith came up with a steal at the end of the game to seal Towson’s 8th straight victory, its best start in team history and most importantly the Belfast Classic Championship.
Despite such a close game, one hidden fact from the game is the rebounding difference. The Tigers outrebounded the Jaspers 41-23 and gave a great effort in offensive rebounding.
Next up for the Tigers, a home game against the in-town rivals, the Morgan State Bears (4-3). Towson came away with a 78-72 victory against Morgan State last year.