Troy’s men’s basketball punched their ticket to the Sun Belt Tournament in New Orleans by drilling Texas State 72-50 on senior night at Trojan Arena, Saturday, March 8. Unfortunately for Troy, their time inside Lakefront Arena was short-lived, as they fell to Arkansas-Little Rock in the first round this past Thursday, March 13, 74-61.
Against Texas State, Troy led by a huge 10-0 run to open the second half, which turned into a Trojan lead that reached as much as 26. The win removed Troy from the Sun Belt Tournament bubble and gave them the eighth and final seed of the bracket.
“We picked a great time to play our best game of the season,” said head coach Phil Cunningham. “The team came out with intensity tonight and fought hard all night long.”
Troy was led by four players who reached double figures, led by senior guard Hunter Williams who finished with 19 points, including an astounding 5-9 from three-point land. With those five 3-pointers of the night, Williams broke the Troy Division I record for made 3-pointers in a season with a total of 96.
Senior guard Antoine Myers reached 15 points with a team-high of 7 rebounds, while junior forward Kevin Thomas came off the bench to gain 13 points. Senior guard Jeff Mullahey was the other Trojan in double-figures, earning 12 points and leading team with 5 assists.
Troy’s superior percentages in field goals, 3-pointers and free throws guaranteed them a win in the end and a trip to New Orleans for the Sun Belt Tournament.
The loss to Arkansas-Little Rock this past Thursday became the result of a long scoreless stretch in the second half, following a 33-33 tie between the two going into the half. The second half saw the Trojans of UALR outscore the men of Troy 41-28, due in part to a Troy shooting drought that lasted almost nine minutes.
“I thought the game turned there early in the second half when we got a couple of point-blank opportunities,” says Cunningham. “It was a back-and-forth game early in the second half and we got a couple shots right in the paint that rolled in-and-out and they hit us with a pretty good run.”
The lead changed seven times throughout the night but Troy simply could not produce as many points as UALR. Rebounds were close too with UALR having 42 boards while Troy made 41.
Troy saw four players reach double figures for the second straight game, led by forward Tevin Calhoun with 15. Myers with 12 points, Williams with 11 points, and Mullahey with 10 points, were the others to reach double-figures.
Troy finishes the year with an overall record of 11-20, going 6-12 in the Sun Belt Conference and ending with an eighth place finish. Williams finishes the year as the Trojans leading scorer, averaging 13.5 points per game.