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Troy women victorious

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Despite travel problems that resulted in the Troy women’s basketball team getting just five hours sleep, the Trojans overcame shooting and foul woes to take a 58-52 come-from-behind victory over Florida Atlantic Saturday night at FAU Arena.

With the victory, the Trojans (11-12, 6-7) move into a tie in the Sun Belt Conference East Division race with FAU (9-14, 6-7) and, by virtue of a season sweep of the Owls, own the tie-breaker in the race for a home game in the first round of the conference tournament in March.

“I don’t think people at home back in Troy realize how big of a win this is,” Trojans head coach Michael Murphy said. “It really says something about the character of the kids.”

The long day of travel seemed to take a toll on the Trojans early, as shots fell short and fouls piled up. Senior Kylie Morrissey went out of the game before the first media timeout in the first half with two fouls. The Sun Belt’s second leading scorer spent the rest of the half on the bench.

Still, the Trojans took an 11-7 lead early, but FAU used a 13-2 over nine minutes to take a 20-13 lead with 4:16 left in the half. That was the Owls’ largest lead, but it was an advantage they did not surrender until the final minutes of the game.

The Trojans had shooting, turnover and foul woes in the first half, but trailed by just six, 26-20, at the break. Despite shooting just 33.3 percent from the floor, hitting just one of six from the free throw line, and committing 13 turnovers, they went to the break knowing they still had a chance to win.

Play between the two teams didn’t improve much in the second half as neither team found any sustained offense, and the fouls and turnovers continued to mount.

Troy closed to within two points of the Owls on four different occasions in the second half, but every time FAU answered with a basket. It was not until the final four minutes that Troy was able to draw even. Ironically, it was at the free throw line where the Trojans made their move.

Freshman Kirsten Smith started the Troy run at the line, making the second of two with 5:03 left to cut the FAU lead to 46-43. From that point on, Troy made 9-of-10 from the line. In fact, after a Brittnie Davis three-pointer cut the FAU lead to one, 50-49, with 3:15 to play, all of Troy’s points down the stretch came at the line.

McNair led the Trojans in scoring. She scored seven of her 15 points at the free throw line. The senior also recorded 12 rebounds. Morrissey finished with 11 points.

Alyce Shearing and Davis added nine points each and the Trojans got 12 big points off their bench.

“The players on the bench came through and they came through with clutch plays,” Murphy said.