The Troy Trojans had no answer for Alysha Clark Wednesday night at Trojan Arena.
Clark scored 21 points in the first half and 50 for the game in a dominating effort to lead the first-place Blue Raiders past Troy 75-60. She was not going to be stopped all night and hit on 20-of-28 shots from the floor. She was also 10-of-11 from the free throw line.
“She (Clark) is a good player and our game plan was to not double her because when you do they put four three-point shooters out on the floor,” Murphy said. “We wanted to take away those three-point shots and we did.”
Middle Tennessee connected on one three pointer in the first half and Troy only trailed 33-30 despite 21 points from Clark.
The Trojans (11-13, 6-8 Sun Belt) kept it close all first half, but Clark and the Blue Raiders (21-4, 13-0) stretched the lead out in the second half for the victory.
“I was really proud of my girls’ effort,” Murphy said. “They played hard for 40 minutes and we executed our game plan pretty well, but we just came up a little short.”
And the Trojans kept fighting in the second half.
“They only made three three-pointers in the second half and we trailed by eight late in the game,” Murphy said. “I realize Clark scored 50 points, but the game plan was working. We were giving ourselves a chance by not giving up that three-point shot that can be a momentum changer.”
Murphy said the Trojans hung with one of the best teams in the country, not just the Sun Belt Conference.
“They play extremely hard and they are well-coached,” Murphy said. “They have an identity and they play to that identity
Troy and Middle Tennessee battled through the first half, but the Trojans could not find a way to jump ahead of the Blue Raiders, trailing 33-30 at the half.
The deficit for Troy was 13-6 early in the first half, but the Trojans fought back to tie the score at 13-13. MTSU kept pushing ahead and Troy would fight back, but never led in the first half.
MTSU came out with a 9-2 run to open the second half and slowly built on that lead, pushing it to 13 points with 11:50 remaining in the game.
The Blue Raiders kept adding to the lead, as Troy could not buy a bucket under the MTSU pressure. Senior Brittnie Davis drained a three-pointer with 9:35 left to cut the Blue Raider lead to 57-42. Less than one minute later Davis converted on a steal and score to further cut the lead. After another bucket from Clark, Davis converted another steal and score.
“Brittnie is a warrior,” Murphy said. “Her story is one of perseverance, her story is one of courage and determination. She came here as a walk on and never played a second as a freshman. She played a little as a sophomore, started some as a junior and right now is my go-to player. Big time players make big time plays in big time games and this was one of those games.”
Davis drained another three-ball with 5:50 remaining to cut the lead to 62-50, but Clark answered with a layup.
“I just wanted to win,” Davis said. “It is a team game and our best players weren’t making their shots, so I felt like I needed to step up to encourage them. I try to put energy out there by yelling or whatever else gets them pumped up and ready to win.”
Davis finished with a career-high 22 points to lead the way for the Trojans. Kylie Morrissy added 14 points.
The Trojans kept it close, but every time they would cut the lead, Clark would respond with a basket.
Alyce Shearing nailed two free throws to cut the lead to 66-56 with 3:20 left in the game.
Troy kept the lead at 10 points, but Brandi Brown nailed a three-pointer with about one minute to go that pushed the lead to 13 points.
Click here for photo gallery of Wednesday’s action