The Troy women’s basketball team took a road trip through the Natural State and split its two games against Little Rock and Arkansas State.
The first game featured a matchup between two Trojan teams that were undefeated in Sun Belt play when Troy (13-5, 6-1 Sun Belt) faced off against the Little Rock Trojans.
The back and forth battle left Little Rock with a 77-74 victory and a spot atop the conference standings. Troy outshot and outrebounded the opposing Trojans but caught a bad case of the turnover bug. Little Rock turned those turnovers into 20 points.
Troy opened up the game by hitting 55 percent of its first-quarter shots but turned the ball over nine times. Little Rock took advantage of the mistakes and ended the first period with a 19-18 lead.
In the second quarter, the shots stopped falling, but the turnovers continued. Little Rock ended the quarter on an 11-2 run behind senior Kaitlyn Pratt’s eight second-quarter points.
Down 10 at the half, Troy clawed back into the contest in the third quarter by getting to the free-throw line. After a 9-0 run late in the quarter, Troy was leading 57-56 heading into the fourth.
After trading shots through much of the fourth quarter, Little Rock pulled ahead with a pair of late free throws to make it 77-74. Troy had one final chance to tie the game but turned the ball over as time expired.
“They are a good team and a well-coached team, and it showed tonight,” Troy Head Coach Chanda Rigby said after the game. “They did a great job of defending, and we didn’t make enough plays in the end. Hopefully, we’ll get to play them two more times before the season is done.”
Troy senior guard ArJae’ Saunders led both teams in scoring with 21 points, while senior forward Caitlyn Ramirez had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Trojans continued their road trip on Saturday with a visit to Jonesboro to take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
Troy maintained the lead much of the way and earned an 83-75 win, the second all-time win at Jonesboro for the Trojans.
Led by Caitlyn Ramirez and her 18 rebounds, Troy set a Division I school record with 69 rebounds in the contest.
Troy started the game on a 9-0 run when Arkansas State got hot from the field and took an 18-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Trojans blew the game wide open with a monster second quarter as six points and five rebounds from Ramirez in the quarter helped put the Trojans up 41-30 at the half.
Troy exploded out of the gate in the third quarter and took a 25-point lead nearly seven minutes into the quarter. The Trojan defense was stifling, holding Arkansas State to 30 percent from the field in the quarter and 30 percent for the game. The Red Wolves used free throws to cut the lead to 14 by the end of the third.
The Trojans continued to put the clamps on the Arkansas State offense in the fourth quarter and rode their strong rebounding to the final buzzer.
Ramirez tallied 19 points to go along with her 18 rebounds to notch another double-double. Saunders also had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Troy will return home Thursday night to play Georgia Southern for the first game of a three-game home stand. The game will be aired on ESPN3 at 6 p.m.