TOW­SON

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - COL­LEGE BASKETBALL -

back-to-back steals. I locked my de­fense up, got re­bounds, and did the things that I can do for my team to try to get us back in the game.”

Banks’ per­for­mance was some­what sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing he had av­er­aged only 10.5 points in six pre­vi­ous league games. But Be­trand, who is gen­er­ally ac­knowl­edged as Tow­son’s best de­fender, cred­ited Banks with car­ry­ing his team’s of­fense.

“He can get hot any­time,” Be­trand said. “This year, he’s strug­gling, but he was hoop­ing. We’ve got to con­tain him, con­trol his drives, and keep him in front.”

Both sides had a dif­fi­cult time find­ing bas­kets in the first half, com­bin­ing for 45 missed shots, in­clud­ing 18 un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts from 3-point range. Still, the Tigers took a 22-18 lead into half­time, giv­ing up their fewest points to a Divi­sion I op­po­nent in the open­ing pe­riod.

But Tow­son be­gan the se­cond half with a 14-2 spurt in the first 3:37. And af­ter an­other 8-3 run, the team owned a com­mand­ing 44-23 ad­van­tage with 14:13 re­main­ing for a lead of 20 points or more for the third con­sec­u­tive game.

San­ders fu­eled that burst with nine points, and Fobbs con­tributed six.

Coach Pat Sk­erry said San­ders’ ef­fec­tive­ness in the low post opened chances for his team­mates on the perime­ter.

“We want to get him the ball,” Sk­erry said. “He scores, he makes good de­ci­sions, he’s tough. He is the heart­beat of the team. So when he’s scor­ing in­side, I’ve got these two wings [in Fobbs and Be­trand] that guard, re­bound, pass, and score. Then we’ve got a re­ally good in­side-out­side bal­ance.”

James Madi­son trimmed the deficit to five points at 57-52 with 1:33 re­main­ing, but then re­sorted to foul­ing the Tigers to try to get the ball back with­out ex­pend­ing much time. Tow­son re­sponded by sink­ing all 12 free throws, in­clud­ing six from Fobbs and four from Be­trand.

“Very crit­i­cal be­cause when they get on a run, it was hard to make them miss,” Fobbs said of the foul shots. “So mak­ing those key free throws are what [helped] us.”

Sk­erry blamed him­self for the Dukes’ come­back, say­ing, “I might have messed up some of our guys’ rhythm be­cause usu­ally we sub pretty quick. But then I was like, ‘We kept go­ing,’ and I thought we could go a lit­tle bit long. So I might have messed up our rhythm. That’s on me.”

Banks was the only player in dou­ble fig­ures in scor­ing for James Madi­son, which ab­sorbed its fourth straight set­back to drop to 8-10 over­all and 1-6 in the con­fer­ence. Coach Louis Rowe took lit­tle com­fort in the team’s late rally that fell short and in­stead pointed to the Tigers’ run to open the se­cond half as the stretch that proved cru­cial in de­ter­min­ing the out­come.

“Their guys made enough plays to win the game, and they came out in the first four min­utes of the se­cond half kind of es­tab­lished,” he said. “And when you’re fight­ing up­hill like that on the road, with the way they played at home and once they made their run, I just told our guys, ‘You bet­ter just fight be­cause that’s what they’ve been do­ing to peo­ple here the last cou­ple games — hit­ting the gas and it’s over.’ You want to say we fought and cut it to five, but they did what it took to build that lead and then they also did what it took to close it.”

KARL MER­TON FERRON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

James Madi­son for­ward Julien Wooden (22) watches Tow­son guard Allen Be­trand pass to a team­mate af­ter Ber­trand grabs an of­fen­sive re­bound Sat­ur­day in a CAA matchup.

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