TOWSON, Md. – Towson senior Gary Neal scored a game-high 29 points, including 21 in the second half to lead the Tigers to a 67-54 victory over Vermont in men’s basketball action on Friday night at the Towson Center. Freshman Joe Trapani (Madison, Conn.) led Vermont with 15 points and a career high 10 rebounds for his first career double-double, as the Catamounts fall to 3-4 with the loss.
Both teams started off the game cold hitting one of the first 11 attempts in the contest. Towson jumped out to a 5-0 lead on a lay up by C.C. Williams and a three from Neal 3:09 in. A three by Colin McIntosh (Milton, Mass.) made it 11-9 Tigers with 11:44 left in the half, but Towson would answer with a 6-0 run on back-to-back three’s from Rocky Coleman and Jonathan Pease to make it 17-9.
Towson (4-3, 0-0 CAA) would lead by as many as nine in the first half, 26-17, but the Cats would score the final five points of the first 20 minutes of play on a lay up by Martin Klimes (Prague, Czech Rep.) and a three from Mike Trimboli (Norwalk, Conn.) to head into halftime down 26-22.
The Catamounts shot only 32.1 percent (9-for-28) in the first half, but hit 4-of-9 from three. Junior co-captain Kyle Cieplicki (Shelburne, Vt.) paced Vermont with eight, while McIntosh added five.
A jumper by McIntosh cut Towson’s lead to 40-35, 5:51 into the second half but the Tigers responded with an 8-0 run over the next 2:45 and would stay in control for the remainder of the contest. Neal hit a jumper to spark the run, while Tim Crossin hit three free throws when he was fouled on a three-point attempt and then nailed another long ball to make it 48-35.
Trimboli looked to give the Cats a push by scoring the next five on a three and a pair of free throws, but Neal had an answer with five straight himself to push Towson’s lead back to 13. Neal, a preseason All-CAA First Team selection who has scored over 1,600 points during his career, was 6-for-9 in the second half from the floor and 8-for-8 from the line as him and Crossin (13 points) were the only Tigers in double figures. Towson blocked 12 shots in the contest, one shy of the school record, including six by Tommy Breaux.
Cieplicki and Trimboli each had 11 for Vermont, while senior Chris Holm (Henderson, Nev.) pulled down 10 boards for his fifth double-digit rebounding performance on the season.