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Towson (5-8) at UNC Wilmington (5-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 2, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Trask Coliseum (5,100) -- Wilmington, North Carolina. Television: Local. Home Record: Towson 0-2, UNCW 5-0. Away Record: Towson 2-6, UNCW 0-7. Neutral Record: Towson 3-0, UNCW 0-0. Conference Record: Towson 0-0, UNCW 0-0. Series Record: UNC Wilmington leads, 16-10.
GAME NOTES: Playing away from home for the 12th time in 14 games to begin the 2012-13 campaign, the Towson Tigers pay a visit to the UNC Wilmington Seahawks for the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both squads on Wednesday.
Towson, which hosted North Dakota State and Coppin State in back-to-back defeats during the middle of December, has traveled from one end of the country to the other already. On Saturday, the team was in Corvallis, Oregon tangling with Oregon State and somehow captured a 67-66 overtime win in order to snap a four-game slide.
As for the Seahawks, a squad that is a perfect 5-0 at home thus far, they too were in action over the weekend, but their outcome wasn't nearly as favorable as they suffered a 72-60 setback against Campbell on the road. The loss was the third in the last four games for a team that has come up empty in seven road games this season.
UNC Wilmington leads the all-time series with the Tigers by a count of 16-10, but last year Towson delivered a 66-61 win at home for the team's lone victory for 2011-12.
A pair of free throws by Jerrelle Benimon tied the game against the Beavers at 60-60 with just over 30 seconds remaining in regulation and it was a jumper by Marcus Damas in the waning moments of overtime that brought home the win for the visiting Tigers. Benimon played the entire game, finishing with a monster double-double that consisted of 20 points and 21 rebounds, followed by Damas with 16 points, although the latter shot just 1-of-6 behind the 3-point line and 5-of-15 from the floor overall. While generating a 20-20 game is not that easy, Benimon is in fact the second player to turn the trick for the last 14 games for the Tigers after Robert Nwankwo tallied 27 points and 20 boards during the CAA Tournament last season against Delaware. Because of the outburst, Benimon is now averaging a double-double with 16.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, both of which pace the program through 13 games.
UNCW actually held a one-point lead at the break against the Fighting Camels, but in the second half the visitors allowed Campbell to shoot 57.1 percent and made just nine field goals of their own as they lost their grip and fell into the loss column yet again. Keith Rendleman fought for 18 points and a team- best 11 rebounds, while Craig Ponder tacked on another 12 points for a team that turned the ball over 16 times and shot just 5-of-17 beyond the arc in the losing cause. Rendleman, the team's leading scorer in each of the last three games, is much like Benimon right now as he leads his team in scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (9.7 rpg) and there isn't another double-digit scorer to be found on the UNCW roster. Rendleman shoots a strong 52.9 percent from the floor, but his 58.4 percent at the free-throw line makes him a liability in close games for sure.
Chances are Rendleman and Benimon will cancel each other out, which means someone else will have to step up and guide one of these teams to the win column and that should be Damas, as long as Towson doesn't have a let-down after such a big win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Towson 66, UNC Wilmington 62
01/02 10:32:15 ET