Trojan women to take on Miss. State

(CONTRIBUTED/ Chris Davis)
(CONTRIBUTED/ Chris Davis)
Senior Ar’Jae Saunders scored a team-high 13 points for Troy on Sunday night, and was one of three Trojans to score in double figures. The Trojans will need her to have another big night Friday when they play Mississippi State.
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Scott Watkins

Staff Writer

For the second consecutive year, the Troy women’s basketball team took home the Sun Belt title and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in the process.

On Monday, the tournament selection committee tabbed the Trojans with the 15 seed in the Oklahoma City region. Troy will play the host of the sub-region, two-seed Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi, on Friday at 1:30 pm.

Troy enters the tournament with two goals: drive up the number of possessions in order to increase the scoring output and grab every possible rebound.

The Trojans, out of 351 teams, are eighth in the country in scoring with 82.9 points per game. The Sun Belt’s second highest scoring team, Louisiana, is 90th with 69.3 points per game.

Rebounding has been a major focus for Head Coach Chanda Rigby. Troy has grabbed 50.2 rebounds a game this season, good for second in the nation. The Trojans are first in offensive rebounds with 20 per game.

Troy’s strength bodes well considering Mississippi State’s most glaring weakness: rebounding. The Bulldogs are 205th in rebounding with 37.2 rebounds per game.

“Let’s seal it all up and make sure we get every rebound we can,” Rigby told the Alabama News Network. “We set records there at the Sun Belt Conference tournament in rebounding and that’s the mindset that we want to take into the NCAA tournament, that we can beat anybody if we get enough rebounds and play our game.”

Rigby’s squad needs to capitalize on its second chance point’s opportunities if it wants to pull off the upset. Mississippi State’s stifling defense has allowed just 55.4 points per game and forces 19.8 turnovers per game.

Turnovers pose as the X-factor for the Trojans. Troy turns the ball over 19.4 times per game, a number that ranks 326th.

Troy will need to limit its turnovers in order to win. A Trojan victory would be historic as a 15-seed has a 0-124 record in the women’s tournament.

As daunting as the record seems, Troy does not prescribe to a poor seed’s history. Troy entered this year’s Sun Belt tournament as a four-seed and last year’s tournament as a five-seed. We all know how those ended.

ESPN2 will be televising the event with the winner of this game playing the winner of 10-seed Northern Iowa and seven-seed DePaul.