Towson deals Blue Hen men eighth straight defeat 79-77

NEWARK — Unlike the last few losses, the margin in this one was paper thin.

The only thing separating Towson and Delaware on Thursday night was one point in each half.

But since that still added up to a 79-77 victory for the Tigers over the Blue Hens in Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball, nobody in a Blue Hen uniform was talking about moral victories.

That margin made it Delaware’s closest game since Dec. 12, which is also the date of the Hens’ last win. All that mattered, though, was that it was the eighth-straight loss for Delaware (0-5 CAA, 5-11 overall).

“It’s almost impossible to play a perfect game,” said sophomore guard Kory Holden. “But we’ve kind of got to play a perfect game.”

“I think these guys always give us tremendous, tremendous effort — which they did again tonight,” said coach Monte’ Ross. “But our margin of error is so slim that you can’t shoot 59 percent from the free throw line and win.”

The final margin was a little deceiving. The Hens got within two only when Holden — who scored 29 points — tossed in a half-court three-pointer at the buzzer.

Still, on a night when it basically played just six players, Delaware was in the contest from start to finish.

The game featured 20 lead changes and 11 ties.

And the Hens were still in front, 64-62, when Cazmon Hayes (14 points) sank a jumper with 4:17 remaining. But Mike Morsell (11 points) gave Towson the lead for good when he answered with a three-pointer 17 seconds later.

The Tigers (3-2 CAA, 12-6) then iced the game from the foul line, hitting 12-of-18 free throws in the final 3:22.

Delaware was down to six healthy scholarship players because reserve forward Barnett Harris is out temporarily with a bruised knee. The Hens’ five starters all played at least 31 minutes with Devonne Pinkard playing 24 off the bench.

All of Delaware’s 77 points came from its starters.

More than anything, though, the Hens’ lack of depth probably hurt its defense down the stretch.

“You get late in the game and we’re rotating Pinkard in there, trying to keep them fresh,” said Ross. “But, hey, it is what it is. I was asked by somebody to compare this team, having six guys, and our first team here (10 years ago) having six guys.

“I said the difference simply is we expect to win now. Even with six guys, we expect to win.”

In such a close game, Delaware was bothered by the fact that it made only 16-of-27 foul shots. Towson wan’t any better at 23-of-34.

Holden and senior Marvin King-Davis (19 points, 11 rebounds) were a combined 10-for-10 from the line. But the rest of the Hens were a combined 6-for-17.

“We were so close,” said King-Davis. “It came down to a few possessions. But we still played badly, in my opinion. We missed too many free throws, gave up too many offensive rebounds and had turnovers at the wrong time.

“The last couple games, we dug ourselves a big hole going into the second half. This time we were right there.”

Free throws

Delaware is 0-5 in the CAA for the first time since 2007. The Hens are the only team in the league still without a conference win … Delaware used eight players in the contest. But walk-ons Sean Locke and Curtis McRoy were only used to foul in the final minute. Eventually guard Anthony Mosley (11 points) and King-Davis fouled out in the final 28 seconds. … John Davis had a team-high 22 points to lead four Towson players in double figures. … Harris may be available on Saturday when the Hens host Northeastern at 2 p.m. … King-Davis has eight double-doubles this season.

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