“Robbed”: Trojans react to abrupt end of historic season
The Troy women’s basketball team was heading into the Sun Belt Conference tournament as the No. 1 seed and eyeing an NCAA tournament bid before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to their championship run.
The Sun Belt Conference announced the tournament was canceled just before the Trojans took off for New Orleans. As the regular season champions, Troy earned the automatic NCAA tournament bid.
“We were all in the locker room because we had just finished practicing,” senior forward Amber Rivers said. “Our coaches informed us that they had decided to cancel the Sun Belt tournament, so we got the automatic bid.
“We celebrated and were very joyful.”
However, shortly after, the NCAA announced the cancelation of all winter and spring championships, officially ending Troy’s championship run.
“Kate, Alexus and I were on the way home to Birmingham when Kate showed us the statement from the NCAA,” Rivers said. “Honestly, it really didn’t hit me at first.
“As soon as I was settled in at home, I was hurt. This was my favorite season at Troy, and everything we accomplished was gone so fast.”
— NCAA (@NCAA) March 12, 2020
Now, more than two weeks later, the feelings about the abrupt ending to the season have not subsided.
“We were on track to accomplish something big,” senior guard Harriett Winchester said. “I feel robbed because we won’t get a chance to play with each other again.
“I’m sad that it ended the way that it did.”
The Trojans were guided by a group of five seniors, Kayla Robinson, Harriet Winchester, Japonica James, Kate Rodgers and Amber Rivers, and each brought something different to the table.
“It was fun to play together,” Winchester said. “We each had different strengths and personalities that we brought to the team that made playing together more enjoyable.”
Despite the season being cut short, there are still many moments that this team can look back on and feel a sense of accomplishment.
For Rivers, there is a clear most memorable moment.
“It was winning the regular season championship,” Rivers said. “It had never been done before in school history.”
Junior Jasmine Robinson also looks to that final game of the 2019-2020 season as the most memorable because of what it meant to Head Coach Chanda Rigby, who took the traditional Powerade bath – a show of celebration and gratitude from players.
“I was so happy to see Coach Rigby’s face after we won,” Robinson said. “We love her so much and to achieve a goal like that means everything to us.
“We did it for her.”
Robinson and the rest of the returning Trojans now have to look ahead to next season to make an NCAA tournament run.
“I am looking for something bigger and better,” Robinson said. “We were cut short this season.
“Making an NCAA tournament run is always the goal, and of course, we want to win another regular season title.”