Trojans win sixth straight, undefeated in conference play

Michael Shipma

Sports Editor

The Troy women’s basketball team continued its blistering start in conference play with double-digit wins over Texas State and UT Arlington at home.

The Trojans (12-4, 5-0 Sun Belt) have now won their last six games, with their last loss coming before Christmas Day. The Troy women were led by senior forward Caitlyn Ramirez, who averaged a double-double for the second straight week following Troy’s most recent wins.

Ramirez’s performance was enough to earn the title of Sun Belt Player of the Week.

Troy’s fourth conference win of the season came against the Bobcats (7-9, 2-3 Sun Belt) of Texas State in Trojan Arena on Thursday night.

Ramirez and the Trojans jumped out to a red-hot 15-4 lead after the first quarter, and never looked back. In the first half alone, Ramirez was nearly in double-double territory with 13 points and seven rebounds, thanks in part to a perfect 3-3 shooting from beyond the arc.

Both teams were in the double digits in turnovers after the first half, a stat that played slightly more in favor of Texas State. The Bobcats made the score a 27-21 advantage to Troy going into the locker room and looked to break a defensive stalemate in the final two periods.

The defensive stalemate broke, but in its place an offensive one arose.

After shooting a stone-cold 7-28 from the field in the first half, the Bobcats picked it up in the second half, shooting 45.5 percent from the floor. The Trojans, however, backtracked from 29 percent shooting in the first half to 26.5 in the second.

While Ramirez continued to shoot well from the floor, she got some help from teammates Amahni Upshaw and Claresa Banks, who dropped 11 and nine points, respectively. Ramirez finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds.

Texas State battled back in the fourth quarter to make the score 49-48 in favor of Troy with 6:02 left to play, but a missed Bobcats free throw kept the home team’s lead intact.

Troy played keep-away down the stretch, setting up a 16-5 run over the final six minutes of the game that made for a comfortable 65-54 victory for Troy.

As a team, the Trojans recorded 53 rebounds in the game, their eighth contest so far this season with at least 50 boards. Defensively, the home team also allowed the fewest points to an opponent it has all season with 54.

That defensive effort carried over into Troy’s next contest two days later against UT Arlington (11-4, 4-1 Sun Belt), setting up another offensive showcase from Ramirez and the high-powered Trojan offense.

Once again, a strong start translated into a comfortable win for Troy on its home court, racing out to a 31-13 lead by the end of the first 10 minutes of play. Ramirez got the offense going, scoring eight of the Trojans’ first 10 points while also making her presence known on the defensive glass.

By halftime, the home team owned a 49-30 lead that had Ramirez and Banks both scoring in double figures. The turnovers were still high in the first half at 12 for Troy, but 26.3 percent shooting from the Mavericks helped to preserve the lead.

UT Arlington came out a different team in the second half, though, outscoring Troy 23-22 and 15-14 in the final two quarters. In spite of this, the deficit from the first half was simply too much to overcome for the away side, leading to a sixth straight win for the Women of Troy.

Ramirez once again led the Trojans on the stat sheet, putting up 17 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Junior guard Amanda Mendoza also scored 17 points on 4-5 three-point shooting to go along with her six rebounds and four assists. Banks added 13 points of her own.

“We are very excited and pleased to get this win,” Head Coach Chanda Rigby said. “The way we got the win was incredible. We had some players that wanted this game so badly that I was afraid we’d come out with too much emotion, but that didn’t happen.”

Troy’s win also marked its 13th consecutive one against a Sun Belt Conference opponent, with their last SBC loss dating back to Feb. 16 of last year. The Trojans have also not trailed in a game since the first quarter of their game against Georgia Southern on Jan. 7, totaling 110:43 of playing time with conceding a lead.

The Trojans will play next on Thursday, Jan. 19 when they travel to Little Rock, Arkansas for a rematch of last year’s conference championship game against Little Rock. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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