GAME NOTES: The Towson Tigers try to make it back-to-back wins over Philadelphia-area programs, as they challenge the Villanova Wildcats at the Pavilion as part of the 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis.
Earlier this week, the Tigers pounced on the Temple Owls at home in a 75-69 decision in order to stay perfect on the campaign at 3-0. The team previously secured victories over both Navy and Morgan State, a couple of local foes, each by at least 20 points.
As for the Wildcats, they are kicking off 2013-14 with four straight home dates, with a meeting versus Delaware to follow this bout. Villanova is off to a 2-0 start thanks to a 75-59 beating of Lafayette in the opener, and a 90-59 romp over Mount St. Mary's.
In terms of the all-time series, the Wildcats have taken all three previous meetings with Towson. The most recent encounter took place in this same building back in 2001, with the outcome being an 87-75 final.
Towson fell behind the Owls in the first half, as the hosts shot only 31.4 percent from the floor and allowed the visitors to make good on 51.7 percent. But after the break, the Tigers dialed up the defensive pressure and limited Temple to a total of just 10 field goals, allowing the hosts to battle back with the help of 15-of-20 shooting at the free-throw line. Jerrelle Benimon led the way for the Tigers with 32 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Marcus Damas who also logged a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards.
Benimon, who has led the Tigers in scoring in the last two games, has held at least a share of the rebounding lead in all three contests and also has team highs in assists (10) and blocked shots (six) at the moment as well. Damas accounts for another 14.3 ppg and reserve Rafriel Guthrie checks in with 14.0 ppg as he shoots 54.2 percent from the floor for a group generating 80.7 ppg while hitting on 42.0 percent behind the 3-point line.
The Wildcats knocked down an impressive 58.8 percent from the floor in the first half against Mount St. Mary's, but from there it got even easier for the home team as they hit on a sizzling 68.0 percent in the second half, making it that much easier to overcome 18 turnovers in the lopsided victory. JayVaughn Pinkston accounted for 21 points, Darrun Hilliard 18 and James Bell 12 points and eight rebounds. Off the bench Villanova was given an added boost by Josh Hart and his double-double of 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the 'Cats posted a 42-27 rebounding edge in the meeting.
Pinkston is off to a fast start with 21.5 ppg, although his 1-of-7 shooting beyond the arc is something to keep an eye on. Bell checks in with 18.0 ppg and a team-best 8.5 rpg, followed by Hilliard and Hart with 15.5 and 10.5 ppg, respectively, for a group that has outscored the competition by more than 23 ppg in the early going thanks to better than 51 percent shooting from the floor.
Villanova's scoring output will slowly drop as the season wears on, but what the team really needs to be concerned with is the excessive turnovers that plagued the it all of last season. If the Tigers can capitalize on those mistakes today, the end result could be very interesting.
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