The Troy men’s basketball team lost two of its last three contests, losing at Louisiana-Monroe 63-54, defeating Georgia Southern 75-71 at home, and losing at home to Appalachian State 69-64.
The Trojans’ (7-9, 2-5 Sun Belt) first contest was on the road Thursday, Jan. 15, against conference opponent Louisiana-Monroe, which was 4-1 in conference play at the time. Troy struggled to score early in the game, falling behind 10-3, but was able to remain close throughout the first half, holding the Warhawks (12-6, 6-1 Sun Belt) to just one three-pointer out of 10 attempts.
The Trojans fought hard in the second half, and gained their first lead of the game after a three-pointer from sophomore guard Kelton Ford made the score 49-48 in favor of Troy.
The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as ULM scored four of nine from beyond the arc in the second half. The Warhawks held Troy to only three free-throw attempts in the game, on its way to a 63-54 win.
The Trojans were able to bounce back from the loss, however, as they returned to Trojan Arena on Saturday, Jan. 17, for a conference matchup against Georgia Southern (11-4, 4-2 Sun Belt).
Troy jumped out to a quick 19-7 lead in the first half and seemed as if it might run away with the game. However, the Eagles weren’t about to be put away so easily, and went on a 15-6 run, to take a 26-25 lead with 7:30 left in the first half.
Senior guard Musa Abdul-Aleem got the lead back for the Trojans with 10 points in the first half. The game went back and forth, and Troy went into halftime clinging to a one-point lead.
The Eagles came out of halftime firing on all cylinders, with redshirt senior guard Jelani Hewitt scoring 13 points to keep the lead. Troy seemed to be unable to do anything to stop the scoring attack of GSU, until it switched from man-to-man coverage to a zone defense that GSU had trouble getting through.
Ford and Abdul-Aleem combined for 49 points for the Trojans by the end of the night, as they were able to retake the lead, maintain it with free-throw shooting down the stretch and win 75-71.
The Trojans looked to keep the momentum from their win on Saturday as they faced Appalachian State on Monday, Jan. 20. But the Trojans started out slow, and fell behind 12-4 early. Junior guard Frank Eaves led the Mountaineers (6-10, 3-4 Sun Belt) with 29 points in the game, and was key in keeping Appalachian State in the game.
After back-and-forth play through most of the first half, Troy seemed unable to stop the three-point shooting of Appalachian State in the second half. The Mountaineers shot 42.3 percent from downtown, keeping the Trojans at bay as they fought to stay in it.
Troy cut the deficit to one point with 2:40 left to play, but key three-point shots as well as free throws down the stretch sealed the win for Appalachian State.
“That was really a tough loss,” said head coach Phil Cunningham. “It zaps some of the momentum we had coming after Saturday’s win in a winnable game against an opponent who was very similar to us.”
Troy will look to regain that momentum as it goes on the road to play UALR on Thursday, Jan. 22.