By: Andy Simmons
The Troy University men’s basketball team was looking to start fresh this past weekend when a trip to the sunshine state was on slate for the Trojans, as they were looking to pull within one game of .500 at the end of the weekend.
It wasn’t meant to be in their first contest. The Trojans fell to a white-hot Florida Atlantic team 80-59 in Boca Rotan on Thursday.
The loss for Troy (7-11, 2-5) snapped their two game winning streak prior to this past weekend.
“To be competitive against a pretty good basketball team like FAU, you have to be able to score,” said head coach Don Maestri.
“That scoreless streak was the downfall for us in the second half.”
Indeed the second half of the contest seemed to be the Trojans ultimate downfall, as they just could not keep pace with the Owls, who began the second half on a 17-2 run that brought their lead up to 19.
FAU shot 52.5 percent from the field, including a staggering 54.2 percent from beyond the arc, while Troy only shot 43 percent from the field while going a mere 21 percent from the trifecta.
Antoine Myers and Josh Warren were the only bright spots in a bleak Trojan performance. Myers scored 15 points while Warren had an outstanding night crashing the boards, finishing with seven points and eight rebounds.
Troy then proceeded to head down to Miami, where FIU was awaiting the Trojans. Troy at one point in the second half had an eight-point lead, but was unable to hold on and eventually fell to the Golden Panthers 61-55. The loss put the Trojans record at 7-12 and 2-6 in the Sunbelt.
“We played extremely hard. We were hustling on boards, diving on the ground, deflecting passes, playing great man-to-man defense,” Maestri said.
“Two of three plays down the stretch went the other way.”
The Trojans were on top 48-41 when FIU came roaring back with an 8-0 run that gave them the edge. Troy grabbed the lead shortly after, but their adversaries would refuse to go away, making a plethora of clutch shots to ensure a Golden Panther victory. FIU’s Malik Smith finished with 22 points and provided some crucial shots in the final minutes of the contest.
“That number 24 (Smith) made some big plays down the stretch, made some tough shots,” Maestri said.
Emil Jones finished with a team high 18 points, along with five rebounds, four assists and two steals. R.J. Scott finished with 11.
Troy shot 38.8 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three-point land, while FIU finished the game at 37 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from range.
The Trojans are back in action tonight as they take on Arkansas State at Trojan Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.