Trojans win two straight, take fifth overall

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 27, 2000

LAIE, Hawaii –

Derrick Davis and Jacova Jenkins each scored 16 points to propel Troy State to a 77-69 win over Southern Illinois in the fifth-place game at the Yahoo! Sports Invitational on Saturday afternoon.

Five players finished in double figures for the Trojans (4-7), who won two straight games in the eight-team tournament after dropping their opener to Iowa State on Thursday.

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"I was really proud of our guys today," Troy State head coach Don Maestri said. "We didn’t shoot the ball well at times, and we at times we didn’t play great defense, but when it mattered most we were able to get some key stops in the second half. I thought our defense was the difference."

On Saturday, Troy State started strong, leading by as many as three points early. Southern Illinois (5-5) rallied, however, on the heels of Kent Williams, who finished with 28 points on 8-of-18 shooting and 7-of-13 shooting from 3-point range. The teams exchanged leads eight times in the half, with Southern Illinois using an 8-2 lead over the final 2:14 to forge a 36-30 halftime lead. Marcus Belcher sealed the run with a 3-point basket as time expired.

In the second half, Troy State fell behind by as many as nine points with 14:52 remaining but rallied with a 19-6 run over the next five minutes to forge ahead. The teams exchanged leads twice from there before the Trojans pulled away down the stretch with strong foul shooting and rebounding.

Southern Illinois sliced Troy State’s lead to 69-67with 3:52 to play but could never get closer. An 8-2 run by the Trojans, with all of Troy State’s points coming from the foul line, closed the game.

For the game, Troy State hit 21-of-23 from the free throw line and 41 percent from the floor (24-59). Southern Illinois shot 39 percent for the game (21-54) and 46 percent from 3-point range (11-24). The Salukis outrebounded Troy State 41-33 but committed 23 turnovers.

Joshua Cross added 14 points for Southern Illinois.

"We are hoping this will take us into the new year with a lot of confidence," Maestri said. "We have struggled early this year, so winning two against quality opponents in this tournament is good for our kids. It is definitely something to build on."

Saturday’s game was the last of 2000 for the Trojans, who do not return to action until Jan. 2 against Central Florida in Trans America Athletic Conference play. Tipoff for that game is set for 7 p.m. at Trojan Arena in Troy.