TROY, Ala. – The Troy men’s basketball team (11-15, 6-9) bounced back with a big over FIU (13-12, 8-8), beating the Panthers 69-61 on Thursday night at Trojan Arena. The win gives head coach Don Maestri 499 in his illustrious career, with a televised home game against North Texas coming up next.
“Hunter Williams and Emil Jones kept us in the game in the first half,” Maestri said. “We told the team it was going to take more than just two in the second half. Josh (Warren), DJ (Jethroe), Jeff (Mullahey) and Ray (Chambers) all stepped up late and helped us get a win.”
Williams led the squad with 20 points, while Jones had 17 and nine rebounds. Deonata Jethroe chipped in with 11 points and six boards. Cameron Bell led the Panthers with 12 points off the bench.
The Trojans reclaimed the lead with under four minutes to play and never looked back. Jeff Mullahey hit the front end of the one-and-one after an open court foul to pull Troy within one point. He missed the second, but Jethroe cleaned up the glass and hit a tough layup to take the lead, 55-54. The Trojans performed great in the clutch, hitting 11-of-14 free throws and all three field goal attempts in the final four minutes.
Troy got up by as many as 10 points early in the second half, but the Panthers came back. FIU went on an 18-2 run midway through the half to take a six point lead with under 10 minutes to play, but the Trojans responded well.
Troy shot 49 percent (25-of-51) from the field and 31.6 percent (6-of-19) from beyond the arc. The Panthers were 24-of-62 from the field (38.7 %) and 8-of-30 from range (26.7 %). Troy outrebounded FIU 37-32.
Troy took a six-point lead into the break, 29-23. Williams scored 14 points in the opening half, hitting three 3-pointers and converting one 4-point-play. The Trojans committed just one foul in the first half.
Maestri has now won 499 games in his career with Troy, dating back to the 1982-83 season. He is the winningest coach in Troy history as well as the winningest coach ever in the state of Alabama.
Troy hosts North Texas on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at Trojan Arena. The matchup will be carried by the Sun Belt Network and will be streamed on ESPN3.com.