The Troy women’s basketball team (14-6, 7-2 Sun Belt) played host to the Sun Belt’s Georgia schools last week, winning the first against Georgia Southern on Thursday and falling short against Georgia State two days later.
In Thursday’s game against Georgia Southern, Troy fought off multiple comeback attempts made by the Eagles to secure a 77-67 victory. The win improved the Trojans’ record to their best since the 1996-97 season when the team made its first NCAA tournament appearance.
The game got off to a slow start, with Troy holding the Eagles to just 20 percent from the field, but only converting on 33 percent of its own shots. Senior guard Jayla Chills provided a scoring boost for the Trojans in the quarter, scoring eight points to help put Troy up 17-12 at the end of the period. Chills tied her career-high of four made three-pointers on her way to scoring 19 points.
The Trojans jumped out to a 25-12 lead early in the second quarter behind back-to-back three pointers from senior guard Claresa Banks.
Georgia Southern quickly erased the deficit and had a two-point advantage before Trojan guard Arjae’ Saunders hit a jumper with three seconds remaining in the half to tie the game at 31.
Troy exploded on offense in the third quarter behind Chills’ eight points and two assists.
The Trojans enjoyed their best quarter from the field, shooting 43 percent while holding Georgia Southern to only 29 percent. With a lay-up in the final 30 seconds, Troy entered the fourth with a 58-45 lead and its largest lead of the game thus far.
The Eagles opened the final quarter on a 15-7 run to cut Troy’s lead to five with 3:14 to go. Trojan senior Caitlyn Ramirez put the game on ice by scoring seven points in the final three minutes of the contest.
The 77-67 win marked Troy’s tenth consecutive victory over Georgia Southern and its eighth win in its last nine games.
The offensive struggles continued into Saturday’s matchup with Georgia State. Despite a strong third quarter, Troy could not overcome its shooting woes and fell to the Panthers 68-65.
Just as in the previous game, both teams struggled out of the gate. The teams combined to make just 10 out of 33 shot attempts. Georgia State led at the end of the first quarter 14-10.
The Panthers opened the second quarter on a 9-3 run to go up by 10. Georgia State held onto that lead for the remainder of the half. The weekend’s closed-rim narrative continued as only four points were scored in the final 4:48 of the first half.
Just as they had two nights before, the Trojans found a rhythm in the third quarter. Troy junior Amanda Mendoza and Ramirez each had eight points and sparked a 31-point quarter that ended with a 51-50 Trojan lead. Ramirez added six rebounds in the period and finished with 20 rebounds, tying the Troy record she set earlier in the season against Auburn.
The Panthers quickly regained the lead early in the fourth quarter with a short 6-0 run. With Georgia State clinging to a 66-60 lead, Troy took advantage of two late Panther turnovers and pulled within one with 16 seconds remaining. After yet another turnover, Banks attempted a go-ahead jumper with four seconds left but was off the mark. Georgia State hit a pair of free throws to close the game.
Troy’s next game is on Saturday at Trojan Arena against South Alabama at 2 p.m.