Trojans end regular season against Dolphins

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 27, 2003

When the Jacksonville Dolphins come to Troy Saturday, they will not have to look very far to find some motivation.

The Dolphins need only remember the last time the two teams faced each other.

Jacksonville built a 48-30 halftime advantage and led by as many 21 in the first half. Troy State shot only 4-for-25 from three point range, 0-for-11 in the first half, and abandoned the press in the second half because Jacksonville had so little trouble with it.

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"They didn't have any trouble beating the press," Troy State head coach Don Maestri said. "We stopped doing it at the half because they were up 18 and were just running down the court, getting easy baskets."

But, Ben Fletcher made a running tip-in at the buzzer to cap a furious Troy State comeback as the Trojans won 70-68.

Fletcher's game-winning basket was even more frustrating for Jacksonville because it thwarted a Dolphin rally. Troy State had taken a 68-64 lead, but JU tied the game with less than 10 seconds to play.

"We were so fortunate to win that game," Maestri said. "If we didn't get that basket by Ben Fletcher, we would have lost. I don't think they will have any trouble finding motivation to play us."

The first meeting was the conference opener for both teams, but Saturday's matchup will be the conference closer for both. The stakes are a little different for this game.

Both teams have clinched spots in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. They will fight Saturday night for position in the tournament.

Troy State will be fighting for at least a share of a conference championship, while Jacksonville will be trying to move to a higher seed in the tournament.

"Jacksonville's won three of its last four [before Thursday] and they are playing extremely well," Maestri said.

Maestri also expressed concern over the fact that Jacksonville had so little trouble breaking the press in the first game. He said he did not expect to change his game plan very much for the game.

Following Saturday's game, the Trojans will be in Atlanta for the first round of the conference tournament. The tournament begins at 11 a.m. Thursday, but seeding will not be formally announced until Monday by the league office. Since Georgia State is the host school for the tournament, if Troy State plays Georgia State, the game will be at 6 p.m.

Saturday's game will be the final home game for Trojan seniors Lovell Craig, Ben Fletcher, Marcus Millhouse and Lacedrick Pettway.