Trojans struggle to close out the season strong

( Photo / Troy Athletics )
Jakevan Leftridge dribbles down the court in Trojan Arena.

Wesley Kircharr
Sports Writer
After a canceled home game against Georgia State, the Trojans posted two weekend losses to the Panthers as the regular season draws to a close.
In game one, Troy (10-14, 4-10 Sun Belt) found offense from Nick Stampley and Khalyl Waters as the duo turned in 19 and 16 points, respectively. The Trojans were unable to stop the Panther offense, however, as the East division’s third spot posted 80 points to Troy’s 66.
“This definitely wasn’t our best performance,” Head coach Scott Cross said. “We weren’t anywhere near as tough as we needed to be. The toughest team always wins, and from the start Georgia State was tougher than we were.
“The beautiful thing is we have an opportunity to redeem ourselves tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll bounce back and play as hard as we can because we need to redeem ourselves after this performance.”
Rebounds seemed to be a key in Friday’s loss as Troy was outrebounded 35-24, falling to 0-7. A surplus of rebounds turned into 23 second chance buckets for Georgia State, sparking a 26-12 second half run.
In Saturday’s matchup, Troy found much of the same fate, falling to the Panthers 65-53 in Atlanta. Despite 15 points from freshman Kam Woods and 13 from Stampley, the Trojans were unable to erase the 12-point deficit created by a near season-high number of turnovers.
“We played a lot tougher and harder than we did yesterday, but we shot ourselves in the foot by turning the ball over 23 times,” Cross said. “Eight of those turnovers were steals and led to easy buckets for Georgia State. The bottom line is we have to be better. It is a problem that is fixable, and I’m glad that our guys played with more toughness and grit tonight. But we need to figure out how to put it all together to be able to turn these losses into wins.”
With under three minutes remaining in play, Stampley hit back-to-back threes to bring Troy within nine. Georgia State put the game on ice with a mid-range jumper, sealing the win with 2:30 remaining.
Up next, Troy plays host to the current runner-up in the Sun Belt East division, Coastal Carolina. Friday and Saturday’s matchups are the final games of the regular season before the Sun Belt Conference tournament kicks off on March 5.

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