NEW ORLEANS – The fourth-seeded Troy women’s basketball held on late to claim an 82-79 win over No. 5 South Alabama on Thursday at Lakefront Arena.
Troy (18-12) earned its seventh straight Sun Belt Conference Tournament win and third straight over South Alabama in the tournament. The Trojans advance to face No. 1 Little Rock on Saturday at 5 p.m. Troy was the only team to defeat Little Rock in Sun Belt play during the regular season.
The Trojans could never find solid footing offensively but did enough across the board to pull off the victory most notably shooting 28-of-30 from the free throw line. South Alabama shot 51 percent (30-57) for the game, while Troy converted just 32.9 percent (25-76). In true Troy fashion, however, the Trojans dominated the boards out-rebounding the Jaguars 52-33 in the game highlighted by 26 offensive rebounds leading to 23 second chance points.
South Alabama (19-12) jumped out to an 11-points lead, 18-7 after making 7 of its first 8 shots. Chyna Ellis scored 15 points in the first half but was held to just four in the second to finish with 19 in the game. Troy responded in the second quarter opening the frame on a 12-2 run building its lead out to seven with 1:30 remaining in the half and holding the Jaguars without a field goal for the final 5:38.
Harriet Winchester stepped up as scored 11 points in the second half with a pair of 3-pointers, she finished with a team-high 15 points. With Troy leading by just three points with just over five minutes to play, Winchester drilled a three doubling Troy’s lead.
Jasmine Robinson and Kayla Robinson tallying 14 points each, while Sky’Lynn Holmes had 10. Jasmine Sanders finished in double figures with despite not making a field goal, she was 12 of 13 from the free throw line.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Troy head coach Chanda Rigby said. “There was a lot of pressure on them coming into this tournament and a lot of expectations on basically a new team. There’s not a lot of tournament experience out there on the court but they still have the expectation of winning and repeating as champions.”
No. 4 Troy takes on top-seeded Little Rock at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Troy won the last meeting between the schools in the Sun Belt Tournament, 61-60 in the 2016 title game.
• Troy forced 20 turnovers in the game, the 100th time the Trojans have forced 20+ turnovers in a game under Chanda Rigby.
• For the 90th time under Rigby, Troy scored 80+ points.
For more information on Troy women’s basketball, visit TroyTrojans.com or follow the team on Twitter at @TroyTrojansWBB.