TOWSON, Md. — Towson guard Nicolas Timberlake looked like he was playing on ice when his feet flew out from underneath him on a first-half baseline drive to the basket at SECU Arena on Thursday night.
Several more spills followed, including two that knocked Delaware’s Dylan Painter and Ebby Asamoah out of the game with sprained ankles while defending at that same Towson end in the first half.
When Delaware’s Jameer Nelson tumbled on that same side of the court 78 seconds into the second half, referees Pat Driscoll, Jamie Luckie and Tommy Morrisse, a veteran crew that had worked Wednesday’s Marquette-Seton Hall game, had seen enough.
They met at the scorer’s table, summoned coaches Martin Ingelsby of Delaware and Pat Skerry of Towson, and it was announced that the game was being suspended due to unsafe playing conditions. The referees had told the coaches at the start of the second half that any more falls would end the game after expressing concern during a first-half media timeout.
“Those guys were sliding all over the place,” Ingelsby said of a playing surface that was frequently described as both "slippery" and "sticky."
Delaware led 38-29 when the game was stopped. No date has been determined for when it will be resumed with 18:42 to play.
“It just felt a little off,” Asamoah said of the floor. “Maybe it’s the humidity in here. I don’t know what it was. It was a little slippery for everybody I feel like.”
Asamoah actually stepped on someone’s foot when he got hurt and, though he was wearing a walking boot postgame, he didn’t feel the injury was serious. Painter was seen walking on crutches with his ankle taped.
“The most important thing is the health and safety of our players,” Ingelsby said. “Both are ankle sprains. We’ll figure out the severity of it. But I thought we were playing really good basketball.”
Delaware players and coaches had noticed the court felt “a little sticky,” Ingelsby said, during their afternoon shoot-around here, with Delaware associate head coach Bill Phillips even mentioning it to Skerry before the game. Skerry informed Towson operations personnel, and the floor received pregame and in-game mopping. Ingelsby said it was odd how his feet stuck to the floor when he stood on the court for the national anthem.
“I was screaming on the bench ‘What is wrong with Nick’s shoes? Get him some shoes.’ He wipes out like three times,” Skerry said of Timberlake.
Skerry said there had been no problems with the playing surface in any recent Towson home games, including last Thursday against Charleston and Saturday against UNC-Wilmington.
"I just told our team if you stay in this long enough you would have seen everything,” said Skerry, who actually had seen it happen before when he was an assistant at Charleston for a game against Auburn at the Charleston Coliseum that had to be called off due to a slippery floor.
Towson didn't have an afternoon shoot-around. But players were definitely “griping about it” at halftime, Skerry said.
“It’s a home game so that’s obviously not what we wanted to do,” Skerry said. “We had a great crowd in there and two good teams. I do agree with the official who grabbed us and said this could be the two best teams in the league and we certainly don’t want to see someone have a season-ending injury on our watch so I get that piece. I don’t want that either and I’m sure coach Ingelsby doesn’t as well.”
The game was a rematch of Monday’s 69-62 Towson win at the Carpenter Center.
Delaware (14-7 overall, 5-3 CAA) moves on to Harrisonburg, Virginia, for its last game at James Madison on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. JMU is leaving the CAA for the Sun Belt Conference after this school year and is, therefore, ineligible for the conference tournament, though games against the Dukes still count in the league standings.
Towson remains 15-6, 6-2 in the CAA.
Before the game was suspended, Delaware got a major boost off the bench from Sanford School graduate Jyare Davis, especially after Painter and his 14 points went out. Davis had six points and five rebounds plus some key defensive stops.
Ingelsby called that “extremely encouraging” and said “he’s really coming into his own and we’re going to need him moving forward.”
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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Delaware vs. Towson basketball game suspended due to court conditions