Troy dominates, rises to third in SBC rankings

Sinclair Portis

Staff Writer

The Troy women’s basketball team cruised to its seventh and eight victories this season against conference opponents Georgia State 97-90 on Thursday, Jan. 7, and Georgia Southern 81-66 on Saturday, Jan. 9.

With the pair of wins, the Trojans (8-5, 3-1 Sun Belt) extended their current winning streak to three games, as well as rising to third in the latest Sun Belt Conference rankings.

Senior guard Ashley Beverly-Kelley led Troy in both games, scoring 26 against the Panthers (6-6, 1-2) and 23 against Georgia Southern. Also coming up big for the Trojans in the past two games was junior forward Caitlyn Ramirez, who recorded 22 against Georgia State and 11 more against Georgia Southern.

Against the Panthers, the Trojans used balanced scoring to down a talented Georgia State squad. Beverly-Kelley, Ramirez and freshman forward Amahni Upshaw all scored at least 20 points, keeping the Panthers’ defense on its heels all night.

It was a close game from the start, however, and after the first half of play, Troy found itself losing 42-41.

Troy made adjustments in the locker room and turned up the defensive intensity after halftime, forcing eight turnovers in the third quarter. Beverly-Kelley, who had been relatively quiet in the first half, took her first shots to give the Trojans the lead, which they would hold for the remainder of the game.

Troy shot 45 percent from the field, while Georgia State ended the game shooting 47 percent.

The Trojans took their momentum from the win into the next matchup against Georgia Southern (4-9, 1-3 Sun Belt), and dominated from start to finish.

The visitors were focused from the beginning, shooting eight of 16 from the floor in the first quarter to take a 27-18 lead. In the second half, Troy forced seven turnovers, widening the gap to 48-21 at halftime.

In the second half, the Trojans maintained their dominance defensively, holding the Eagles to only 13 points in the fourth quarter.

Trojans outplayed Georgia Southern in nearly every category, shooting 44 percent from the field to the Eagles’ 38 percent. Troy forced 21 turnovers in the game, while limiting its own to 16.

Troy also held Georgia Southern’s point guard, Alexis Sams, to zero points or assists and seven turnovers.

Beverly-Kelley made five assists and eight of 16 shots, and Ramirez added 11 points and six rebounds, even though neither of them played in the fourth quarter.

Junior forward Kristen Emerson recorded her first career double-double thanks to a career-high 10 points and 12 rebounds. Emerson proved to be a dominant force on the boards, helping the visitors to a plus-11 difference in rebounds, a best for the Trojans so far this season.

Troy will return home to host UT-Arlington on Thursday, Jan. 14, in Trojan Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.

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