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Trojan comeback falls short

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - After cutting a 20-point Arkansas State lead to two, the Troy University women's basketball team had four chances to tie the game but came up short each time as the Trojans fell 68-62 to the Lady Indians in the first round of the Sun Belt Championship.

The Trojans were led by Valensia Hairston, who scored 16 points. Audrey Muse scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss, and senior Alecia Jones scored 11 points in her final game with the Trojans.

ASU was led by its pair of first-team Sun Belt selections, Rudy Sims and Adrianne Davies. Sims scored 18 points and had eight assists and eight rebounds, while Davies scored 13 and grabbed nine rebounds.

Leading 15-5, Arkansas State (14-14) used a 10-0 run to extend its lead to 20, 25-5 with 11:42 to play in the half.

Troy (9-18) was trailing 44-28 at halftime.

Amy Lewis hit a jump shot with 11:36 remaining that brought the score to 49-41, cutting ASU's lead to single digits for the first time since early in the first half. Hairston and Lewis made baskets to cap a 7-0 run by the Trojans and bring them within three, 49-46 with 10 minutes to play.

After a free throw from Amber Abraham put ASU up by four, Hairston scored from the block to bring Troy to within two, 50-48 with 8:47 to play. Troy got the ball back with the chance to tie or take the lead, but could not score.

It stayed close. A layup from Davie put ASU up 63-57 with 2:30 to play, but Laura Lee Holman countered with a three on Troy's next trip to make it a one-possession game.

Morrissy brought Troy to within two with a jump shot with 1:42 to play. Muse rebounded a miss by Sims that gave Troy the ball and a chance to tie with one minute left to play.

Troy got the ball in to senior Alecia Jones on the block, but Jones' pass out to Lewis on the wing sailed out of bounds, returning the ball to the Lady Indians with 22 seconds to play.

Troy elected to foul, and ASU was perfect from the stripe in the closing seconds.

&#8220I have to thank our girls for their effort tonight,” Troy head coach Michael Murphy said. &#8220Not a lot of teams would battle back after being down 20. I think in the last 15 minutes, we played a very solid man-to-man, and that helped us make our comeback. I'm very proud of the way this team never quit.”

The loss ended Troy's inaugural season in the Sun Belt.