Troy’s men strived in vain to defeat the Red Wolves, losing by a mere 10 points, 83-73, on Saturday, Feb. 1. Arkansas State dominated in the free throw department and beyond the rim, but Troy fought the whole game.
During the first half, Troy and ASU answered each other’s points constantly, keeping the game tight and tying the score six times. It was the steady accumulation of baskets from the charity stripe that allowed the Red Wolves to pull ahead.
“That was a tough loss because I thought we came out ready to play, and we played well early,” said head coach Phil Cunningham. “I thought the most critical stage of the game was about the 8 minute mark of the first half. At that point we had seven assists and two turnovers and then we go into half time with eight assists and nine turnovers so we have one assist and seven turnovers down the stretch and that’s when they extended that lead and that was just a huge part of the game.”
Senior forward Tevin Calhoun and junior forward Kevin Thomas tied for scoring the most points for the Trojans in the game with 16 apiece. They also both had spectacular breakaway dunks during the first half that got the crowd fired up.
Other players who helped keep the Trojans in the game were senior center Josh Warren and senior guard Antoine Myers. Warren breathed life into the team during the second half by contributing three blocks and seven rebounds and a field goal.
Myers had a double-double for the night, making the most rebounds for the team at 11 and scored 14 points as well.
“Basically that’s just my mindset every game, just to help us from a guard stand point, just to rebound,” Myers said.
Troy kept Arkansas State’s field goal percentage about even with their own, only allowing 43.6 percent while the Trojans averaged 46.6 percent. While the Trojans were extremely strong in the paint, scoring 30 and ASU only made 16, the Red Wolves had the advantage in 3-pointers adding to their lead during the second half.
ASU had a free throw percentage of 82.8 while Troy made only 57.1 percent. The Red Wolves shot a total of 24 out of 29 free throws while the Trojans only made 12 out of 21.
“When you go to the line and miss free throws, that’s tough because it saps the air out of you, not only the players but the crowd and we work on it,” Cunningham said. “We’ve been working a lot on them and maybe we need to quit working on them maybe that will work.”
Within the last minute of the game ASU was at the free-throw line three times in a row but senior guard Jeff Mullahey, who had been struggling to produce throughout the game, had the last word and scored a 3-pointer with fifteen seconds to spare.
Sophomore guard Cameron Golden for the Red Wolves gained possession of the ball and ran out the last ten seconds of the clock. The Trojans played with endurance but in their desperation, the constant personal fouls near the end hurt them the most and gave the Red Wolves an extra six points for the final score.
Troy faces the South Alabama Jaguars at the Trojan Arena today at 7:30 p.m. and then hits the road to play Western Kentucky at Bowling Green on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.