Women’s hoops falls in first round at Mississippi State

(CONTRIBUTED/ Chris Davis)
Senior guard Ta’Kierra Gibbs and the Trojans played a close first quarter, but a strong next two quarters from the hosting Bulldogs was too much for Troy to handle. With the loss, Troy was eliminated from the NCAA tournament.
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Scott Watkins

Staff Writer

The Sun Belt champion Troy Trojans played a tight first quarter with Mississippi State, but were stifled for the rest of the game in a 110-69 loss Friday, March 17.

The 15th-seeded Troy women’s basketball team traveled to Starkville, Mississippi, to take on two-seed Mississippi State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

After falling behind 11-2 to open the game, Troy battled back to make it 12-9. The Trojans never got closer than three points as the two teams traded shots for much of the rest of the first quarter.

Troy entered the second quarter down just 27-21, but had a forgettable ten minutes. The Bulldogs outscored Troy 29-6 in the quarter behind four three pointers, including one as the buzzer went off to end the half.

Troy turned the ball over nine times in the quarter and 28 times throughout the game. The Trojans made only two field goals and shot just 13 percent. Mississippi State ended the quarter on a 21-1 run.

Troy star Caitlyn Ramirez missed much of the half due to foul trouble. She finished the half with four points and one rebound.

Up 56-27 after halftime, Mississippi State continued to pull away in the third quarter to make the score 88-46. Senior Claresa Banks was a bright spot for Troy as she scored nine points in the stanza. Banks finished with a team-high 15 points in the game. , Troy played a tight fourth quarter. Five different Trojans scored in the quarter, including freshman Amber Rivers. Rivers scored all of her 11 points in the fourth to finish with her second-highest scoring total of the season.

“We got behind the eight-ball very soon,” Trojans Head Coach Chanda Rigby said. “We did fight back the whole game, but we lost to a very good team today. We just didn’t find the right answers for them or their crowd.”

Troy shot just 31 percent from the field and made just five three-pointers on 31 attempts. Troy was uncharacteristically outrebounded 61-48.

“We were going to take it to them either way,” Ramirez said. “All of their players were bigger than us, so we had to be more physical. There were times during the game where we just didn’t rebound well at all.”

Ramirez, who logged only 14 minutes throughout the game, finished with five points and four rebounds. Ramirez finishes her illustrious career in Troy at third on the school’s all-time rebounding leaderboard with 692.

Troy heads into the offseason looking to build on its back-to-back conference championships. Rigby’s goal for next year is to capture a third conference title and “to advance NCAA tournament success.”