Arkansas State rallies past Troy 84-81

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TROY, AL - (WTVY-TV) TROY, Alabama – Arkansas State outscored Troy 47-36 in the second half en route to an 84-81 win on Wednesday night at Trojan Arena in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both clubs.

Troy (5-7, 0-1 Sun Belt) led by 12 with 12:27 to go in the game before Arkansas State (5-7, 1-0) began to chip away at the deficit. The Red Wolves got within six, 62-56, with 10:24 to play in the game and to within one, 68-67, with 5:51 remaining in the contest.

Arkansas State eventually tied the game at 73 with 4:09 left in the game on a Donte Thomas free throw. After Troy retook the lead, 78-77, Devin Carter made a layup to give the Red Wolves a 79-78 lead with 42 seconds remaining in the game.

Thomas converted on 3-of-4 free throws and Josh Pierre added two more over the final 17 seconds to seal the victory for the Red Wolves. The Trojans didn’t make a field goal in the game after a Jeremy Hollimon jumper gave them a 75-73 lead with 3:47 to play.

Five Trojans finished in double figures led by sophomore Wesley Person who scored a game-high 20 points. Holimon added 14 points, while Jordon Varnado had 13 points and nine rebounds. Shawn Hopkins hit on 4-of-5 3-point attempts and chipped in a career-best 12 points and John Walton III finished with 10 points and seven boards.

Troy took a 45-37 lead into the break after shooting a blistering 53.8 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, which included 7-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc. However, the Trojans cooled off in the second half and shot just 34.6 percent from the floor and 2-of-7 from 3-point range.

Arkansas State shot 50 percent from the floor for the game, but shot 55 percent in the second half. Thomas led the Red Wolves with 20 points and Anthony Livingston tallied a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

The Red Wolves won the battle down low as they outscored the Trojans 42-14 in the paint and 15-5 in second-chance points.

The Trojans return to the court on Saturday at 4:15 to take on Little Rock (11-1, 1-0) at Trojan Arena.

Women's Game

TROY, Alabama – The Troy women’s basketball team led early, but opened Sun Belt play with a poor second quarter in a 101-81 loss to Arkansas State on Wednesday night at Trojan Arena.

Troy (5-5, 0-1) had a lead early in the second quarter, but Arkansas State (7-3, 1-0) used an 11-2 run to go ahead 39-32 with 3:12 to go before halftime. The Red Wolves went into halftime with an 11-point lead, 47-36. In all, Troy got outscored 24-10 in the second quarter and shot just 4-of-16 from the floor.

From there, Arkansas State continuously got behind the Troy press and the Red Wolves shot 54 percent (39-of-72) on the night as Troy never got within single digits in the second half and the Red Wolves pushed the lead to as many as 20 points.

Troy had three score in double figures, led by Claresa Banks who posted 15 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double in her second career start. Ashley Beverly Kelley and Rachel Reid each scored 14 points, but combined to go 11-of-37 in doing so. Reid had 11 points and made three 3-pointers in the first quarter to help Troy builds its early lead.

Arkansas State outscored Troy, 58-30, in the paint thanks in large part to its ability to get to the rim behind Troy’s full court pressure. The Trojans, on the other hand, could not finish at the rim as they scored just 17 second-chance points despite grabbing 25 offensive rebounds. Troy shot 35 percent (28-of-80) overall and finished 8-of-26 from deep.

The two teams were even in rebounds at 47-47 thanks to Troy’s strong showing on the offensive glass. The turnover battle was also near even as Troy turned it over 21 times and forced 19 turnovers. However, the Red Wolves did a better job with the extra opportunities and outscored Troy, 25-12, in points off turnovers.

Arkansas State got 23 points from Amanda Lawson and 15 points and eight assists from Khadija Brown-Haywood. The two-time reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year, Aundrea Gamble, had just seven points and took just five shots for preseason Sun Belt favorite Red Wolves.

Next up for Troy is last season’s Sun Belt champion Little Rock who visits Trojan Arena on Saturday at 2 p.m. Little Rock opened Sun Belt play with a 47-34 win at South Alabama on Wednesday night.

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