Towson (3-2) at Loyola-Maryland (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 26, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reitz Arena (2,100) -- Baltimore, Maryland. Television: None. Home Record: Towson 0-0, Loyola 2-0. Away Record: Towson 0-2, Loyola 1-1. Neutral Record: Towson 3-0, Loyola 2-0. Conference Record: Towson 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Series Record: Loyola-Maryland leads, 43-27.
GAME NOTES: Bragging rights in the Old Line State are up for grabs, as the Towson Tigers pay a visit to the Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds on Monday night.
Since opening the season with a 75-58 loss at the College of Charleston, Towson has won three of its last four games, including the last two over Kennesaw State (69-63) and Cincinnati Christian (79-40). The team also has a win over Radford (75-67) and a loss to Eastern Kentucky (71-69 in OT) to show for its efforts early on. Following this clash, the Tigers still have tough non-conference bouts with Georgetown, Temple and Oregon State before kicking off Colonial Athletic Association action at UNC-Wilmington on Jan. 2, 2013.
Loyola-Maryland has made some serious noise in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference of late, and the team is off a solid 5-1 start to the new campaign. With an 85-63 loss at Washington being their only blemish thus far, the Greyhounds are in the midst of a four-game win streak, with their most recent triumph coming at Rhode Island last Friday in overtime, 58-54. Loyola, which will play a very good Memphis team at the end of the 2012 calendar year, will face its first MAAC opponent when it hosts Niagara a week from Wednesday.
Loyola owns a 43-27 edge in the all-time series with Towson, and the Greyhounds won last year's encounter on the Tigers' home court, 75-57. Despite that setback, Towson has won four of the last six meetings.
While sporting a record that doesn't exactly rank it among the elite, Towson has been pretty stingy on defense this season as the opposition is shooting just 39.7 percent from the field, which includes a dismal 29.8 percent showing from three-point range. As a result, the Tigers are yielding only 63.2 ppg, while at the same time putting up 70.0 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .468 overall and .361 from beyond the arc. They own a substantial edge on the glass (+11.6), but they commit more than 15 turnovers per outing while converting just 59.2 percent of their free throws. The team boasts just one double-digit scorer, but he is a good one as Jerrelle Benimon nets 16.2 ppg in draining 54.2 percent of his total shots. The 6-foot-8 junior also heads Towson's effort on the glass (9.8 rpg) while tying for the team lead in assists (2.2 apg). He and Jerome Hairston have combined for 38 turnovers (7.6 per game). Mike Burwell was high man for the Tigers in their recent rout of Cincinnati Christian, as he tallied 18 points, while Marcus Damas added 12, Bilal Dixon logged a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Kris Walden came off the bench to chip in 10 points as well. Towson shot 59.3 percent from the floor, dropping nine treys along the way, and it held its overmatched opponent to 24.1 percent field goal efficiency while laying claim to a resounding 46-22 rebounding advantage.
With a record that suggests dominance, or at least consistency, Loyola owns favorable margins in every major statistical category -- +7.2 in scoring, +1.8 in rebounding, +3.2 in turnovers. The Greyhounds boast three double-digit scorers, as Dylon Cormier (16.8 ppg), Erik Etherly (15.7 ppg) and Robert Olson (12.0 ppg) all contribute to the team's scoring average of 68.3 ppg, which it achieves by hitting 44.0 percent of its field goal attempts. The three-point shot is falling just 31.9 percent of the time for Loyola, and the team once again struggled from long distance in its recent clash with Rhode Island. The Greyhounds went just 4-of-20 from beyond the arc and shot a disappointing 34.3 percent from the field overall, but the Rams were only 33.9 percent accurate, missed 18 of their 22 three-point tries, and half of their free throws (10- of-20). Olson nailed all four of the team's treys en route to 20 points, and Etherly was credited with a double-double consisting of 11 points and 10 rebounds. The team as a whole committed just six turnovers.
Loyola is the better all-around team in this matchup, but Towson is sure to put its best foot forward in an attempt to knock off its long-time rival. Expect the Greyhounds to prevail at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola-Maryland 69, Towson 63
11/26 10:30:36 ET