Trojan women climb to second place in SBC standings

(PHOTO/ Joshua Thurston)
(PHOTO/ Joshua Thurston)
Troy won both of its last two games at home, first beating Appalachian State, and then topping Coastal Carolina. Against the Mountaineers, senior Jayla Chills (right) scored a career-high 27 points on 9-15 shooting, including a perfect 4-4 from three-point range.
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Scott Watkins

Staff Writer

The Troy women’s basketball team won each of its last two games to take sole possession of second place in the Sun Belt Conference.

With the final stretch in sight, the Trojans (18-7, 11-3 Sun Belt) won back-to-back games at home against Appalachian State and conference newcomer Coastal Carolina.

The Trojans hosted Appalachian State on Thursday and defeated the Mountaineers 86-77.

Appalachian State took an 11-4 lead to open the game, taking advantage of a pair of early Trojan turnovers. Troy battled back into the game and trailed 18-16 at the end of the first quarter.

Troy grabbed its first lead of the game in the second quarter and maintained a small advantage thanks to the hot hand of senior guard Jayla Chills. Chills scored eight points in the quarter on her way to a career-high 27 points for the night.

The Trojans entered the second half with a 36-32 lead but grew that lead to 11 behind Caitlyn Ramirez’s 11 points and five rebounds in the third quarter. Senior Claresa Banks added seven points of her own to help push the Trojan lead to 62-51.

Troy iced the game in the final quarter at the free throw line. Troy hit 11 of 14 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter. Knocking down free throws coupled with Chills’ 11 points helped Troy secure the 86-77 victory.

“We’ve been looking forward to this game for quite some time now because this team plays so similar to us,” Troy Head Coach Chanda Rigby said. “We knew that the team that could hit the most shots had a good chance of winning this game.”

Troy capped off its two-game home stand on Saturday with a 78-66 win over Coastal Carolina.

The Trojans got off to a strong start, jumping out to a 19-9 lead. A quick 7-0 run by the Chanticleers brought the game within three until a three-pointer from Trojan junior Amanda Mendoza sent Troy into the second quarter with a 22-16 lead.

The Chanticleers stormed out of the gate in the second quarter and took a 24-22 lead. Troy senior Ta’Kierra Gibbs responded with five quick points to put Troy back in front for the remainder of the half.

The third quarter has been make-or-break for Troy all season. Up 35-30 heading into Saturday’s third quarter, Troy broke the game open and held onto a double-digit lead for the majority of the rest of the game.

Ramirez had seven points in the quarter, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds in the game for her 11th double-double of the season.

After Coastal Carolina threatened to pull back within striking distance for much of the fourth, Ramirez scored five points in a 40-second span to help secure the 78-66 win.

Holding onto a one-game lead over Texas-Arlington for the second seed in the Sun Belt tournament, Troy travels to Arlington on Thursday for a pivotal battle. The Trojans will follow that up with a visit to Texas State on Saturday.