Trojans rally in second to route Gamecocks

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 9, 2003

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks had a plan coming into Saturday night's game against Troy State, to slow down the pace of the game.

Whether the Gamecock game plan was to blame or whether it was a case of cold shooting is not clear. It is clear that the Trojans could not find a rhythm in the first half.

The second half, though, was a completely different story.

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Troy State trailed by six at the half but outscored Jacksonville State 48-22 in the second to end the series on a win, 71-51. In the process, Trojan coach Don Maestri collected win No. 350 for his career.

"We were hurt by rebounds in the first half," Maestri said. "When a team runs that type of offense, you can't afford to give up the offensive rebounds. They outrebounded us by a large margin in the first half (23-11).

"If there's one difference in the second half, it's that we got after it on the rebounds, Maestris said."

Rob Lewin was the major rebounder for Troy State in the second half. He finished with nine rebounds for the game, six of which came in the second half.

He also finished with 13 points, one of four Trojans to score in double figures.

Lewin was a force because the Trojans were comfortably colder from the outside than their past two games.

Troy State struggled from the three-point line all night, hitting only five-of-23 from long range.

Ben Fletcher hit three of them, two in the second half. He was also six-for-six from the free-throw line to lead the Trojans with 17 points.

Fletcher hit three-for-seven from three-point range, but his teammates struggled. Greg Davis, who finished with 10 points, hit one-of-six, Herbert Evans went none-for-two and LaCedrick Pettway missed all three attempts.

Jacob Hazouri hit one-for-two.

"Sometimes after you've had two good shooting nights in a row, you take those same shots on the third," Maestri said. "That was a factor in the first half. We told them at the half they didn't have that excuse any more. They had to take better shots and make the open shot."

The free-throw line was one key difference in the game. Troy State shot 82 percent from the free-throw line (22-27) compared to 63 percent (5-8) for Jacksonville State.

After Fletcher hit a three-pointer on the team's first shot of the game, the outside shooting went cold for Troy State. The Trojans missed their next 11 attempts from three-point range as Jacksonville State led 29-23 at the half.

The Gamecocks, meanwhile, were torrid from behind the line. They hit seven of their 11 first-half attempts.

Jacksonville State came out in the second half extremely cold. Troy State scored the first 14 points of the second half to take a 37-29 lead. The 14-0 run lasted the first eight-and-a-half minutes of the half.

The Gamecocks seemed to suffer from their slow pace on offense as they could not manage to get many shot opportunities. They shot a miserable 28 percent from the field in the second half after shooting 40 percent in the first.

Poonie Richardson, who led the Gamecocks with 11 points, hit only five of his 15 shot attempts.

Troy State put together two large runs, the 14-0 run to start the half and 9-0 run to stretch the lead from 51-40 to 60-40.

The Trojans held their biggest lead of the game at 71-48 with 46 seconds left when Hazouri made his only basket of the game. His basket marked the 10th time this season that all 10 Trojans scored in a game.

Troy State will be off until Feb. 15 when it must travel to Macon, Ga., to face Mercer.