Trojans can’t break through against Jags, drop tough home game

Trojans can’t break through against Jags, drop tough home game
Troy guard Tahj Small attempts a three-pointer against South Alabama - Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. (Source: Chris Davis/Troy Athletics)

TROY, Ala. (WSFA) - Trojan Arena was filled with fans Friday night as the home Trojans welcomed rival South Alabama. Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Trojans’ valiant fight would come up short as Troy (9-16, 5-9) would fall 70-66 to the Jaguars (14-11, 7-7).

It was a game in which the Trojans never led, despite making several runs to put themselves in position to do so.

The Trojans trailed 67-66 with 1:01 to play following a pair of Darian Adams free throws. Prior to that, Ty Gordon had hit a clutch three to cut the Jaguars’ lead to 67-64.

In the final minute, though, despite not hitting a single shot from the field in the game’s final 2:44, South Alabama was able to keep Troy at arm’s length through free throws. The Jaguars hit three of four free throws to put the game away. Troy had its chance but just couldn’t get their shot to fall.

“We were right there at the end. We missed a rebound after we did a perfect job of defending them. We just couldn’t get over the hump. I was happy with how our guys competed in the second half,” said Troy head coach Scott Cross.

The Trojans entered Friday knowing they’d have to shoot the three ball well to have a chance. They went 5-for-19 in the first half and finished 11-for-36. The problem was that South shot 4-for-7 in the first half from beyond the arc, and was shooting 53.3 percent from the field.

South Alabama’s best player in Josh Ajayi had 14 points in the first half alone. He’d finished with 20 and 10 rebounds.

Despite how well South Alabama was playing all night, the Trojans had answers. Troy trailed 42-34, 46-37, 59-49 and 67-60 at various points in the second half, fighting back from all deficits to make it close.

Adams nailed a big three early in the second half to pull the Trojans back within three in a 46-43 ballgame. Later, Montgomery native Desmond Williams knocked down Troy’s 10th three to pull the Trojans to within a 61-60 deficit with 4:33 remaining.

But seemingly every time Troy got close, the Jaguars had an answer.

Following Williams’ three, Andre Fox hit a tough jumper for South Alabama to increase the lead back to three. An Adams three-point attempt was off for the Trojans and the Jaguars jumped back ahead five following a layup from Trhae Mitchell. After a Troy turnover, the Jaguars were able to get a series of offensive rebounds before Chad Lott scored South Alabama’s final field goal of the game to put the Jaguars ahead 67-60.

“In the second half, we played our hearts out. We played about as hard as we could, and I thought we did a pretty good job of attacking their zone in the second half,” said Cross.

Williams finished as the high man for Troy with 14 points of 5 of 9 shooting from the field. He was 4-for-7 from three-point range. The Trojans landed four total players in double figures.

The second game of Troy’s three-game homestand will welcome Louisiana-Monroe next Thursday. That game tips off at 6 p.m.

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