TSU blasts Samford to remain
Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2000
undefeated in TAAC
By STEVEN G. WATSON
The scene couldn’t have been set much better for the Troy State Trojans Thursday night.
They had the crowd, the excitement, an undefeated conference record and the ideal opponent ­ last year’s conference champion Samford. The Trojans used all of the above as seasoning for a sweet 77-65 victory to improve to 9-5 on the year and remain undefeated at 5-0 in Trans America Athletic Conference play.
"This is our biggest win since we moved to Division I," TSU head coach Don Maestri said after the game. "It was a great team win. Everybody contributed to this."
Samford (10-6, 4-2) came into the game heavily favored as the defending TAAC champions, but Troy State made it look easy down the stretch as the Trojans toyed with the Bulldogs, milking precious time off the clock and remaining focused enough to hold off any late Samford run.
Trojan point guard Detric Golden sliced through the Bulldog defense giving Troy State an easy layup and a 10-point 37-27 lead at halftime. That lead dissolved very quickly, however, showing how potent the Bulldogs can be when their offense is shooting on all cylinders.
"They never quit running that offense and if you relax at any point while they’re running that offense then you’re going to get burnt," Maestri said.
And that’s exactly what the Bulldogs did. They sliced and diced the TSU lead to nothing in the first three minutes of the second half.
The Trojans regrouped, however, and put together a huge 10-0 run before the half-way mark of the second period and held on to for dear life as the Bulldogs tried to chip away sinking treys from all around the perimeter.
"Mostly I was proud of the way they all stayed focused on defense which is what you have to do against Samford," Maestri said. "I don’t think we lost our poise the whole time. Even when they made the run we maintained our composer and finished it out. When we needed it we had two or three guys step up and make some big baskets and we hit all our free throws in the last three or four minutes to maintain the lead."
Golden was once again the work horse for the Trojans down the stretch scoring 15 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. Matt Holman blew up for Troy State as well hitting for 18 while Jacova Jenkins and Eugene Christopher both notched 10.
Samford had four players score in double figures as well, but TAAC leading scorer, Marc Salyers was shut down in the second half hitting for only four of his 12 points on the night. Mario Lopez paced the Bulldogs with 21.
The win now sets up Troy State and Jacksonville State in a battle of the TAAC unbeatens Saturday. Both stand at the top of the conference and will tip it off at 7:30 p.m. in Trojan Arena.