LAFAYETTE, La. — The Troy Trojans avenged their earlier loss to Louisiana with an 81-67 victory on Thursday night in Sun Belt action at the Cajundome.
The win kept Troy (18-11, 13-4 SBC) alive in the Sun Belt East division race, just one game behind leader Western Kentucky.
“In the first half, we played outstanding,” Troy head coach Don Maestri said. “We shot something like 69 percent, which is unbelievable. I told the kids at halftime that we would not shoot that well in the second half. We would really have to work harder and execute better to get good shots. In the last four minutes the game got kind of sloppy and committed some bad fouls. You can’t stop the clock and put the other team on the line like we did late in the game.
“We did not set any goals for this team this year. We just told them we wanted to do two things. First, we wanted to get a little better each week. With us implementing a new offensive system, we wanted to just add a little more and get a little better each week. The second thing was to work hard and develop some unselfish play, because that’s where chemistry is built. The by-product of that has been that we have beaten every team in this league at least once after tonight. The team may not know how big of a deal that is, but that is a big deal in this league.”
Brandon Hazzard hit a mid-range jumper and Richard Delk found Tom Jervis on the fast break for two points. Antywan Jones found Jervis for a dunk down low as Troy opened up a 6-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game.
After Louisiana (10-18, 7-10 SBC) rattled off four straight points, Jervis sank two from the charity stripe to make it 8-4 Trojans on top with 14 minutes left. Kenny Ware knocked down his first trey attempt of the night to open up a seven-point lead for Troy, 11-4.
Ware found the bottom for a long two, then a triple off a curl running the Trojans’ lead out to 12 points. Telfair converted two from the stripe to make it 18-4.
Delk and Vogler got back-to-back lay-ups in a span of about 10 seconds to make it 25-9 for the good guys. Louisiana answered with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 25-15, but Vogler found Ware in the paint for two points to halt the run.
The Cajuns got the deficit under 10 points with their first 3-pointer of the night from Travis Bureau. Ware got two at the line, but Chris Gradnigo added three the hard way. Josh Williams got his first two and then found Delk for three after a steal. Delk’s trey gave Troy a 34-23 lead.
Vogler got a lay-in high off the glass to go making it 41-25 and an acrobatic sequence saw Vogler find Delk who then found Hazzard for two points with the ball never touching the floor. Ware then converted a four-point play for a 20-point first half lead, 47-27.
Telfair scored two points in the paint off an assist from Vogler with one second left in the first half. The bucket capped a 24-3 run over the final 5:06 of the first half.
Jones opened the second half with his second 3-pointer of the season. Following that shot, UL went on an 11-5 run to cut Troy’s advantage down to 57-38. Gradnigo picked up a run-out dunk to pare Troy’s lead down to 15 points, 57-42 with 12 minutes to go.
A dunk by Bureau and a three-point play by La’Ryan Gary sliced Troy’s lead even lower to 10 points. Williams answered with a long two for Troy, but Gradnigo came right back with a runner in the lane and two points.
Jervis split a pair of free throws and got a left-handed jump hook to go down low. Louisiana’s Randell Daigle got on the board with a triple on their next possession leaving Troy on top 62-52 with 7:57 remaining.
Ware hit a jumper from the foul line to stretch Troy’s lead out to 14 points. Gradnigo hit another trey to cut the Cajuns’ deficit to nine points, but Delk found the bottom of the bucket on a wing 3-pointer for a 69-57 lead with 2:28 left.
Troy hit 13-of-17 second half free throws to ice the 81-67 victory and split the season series with Louisiana. Hazzard let the Trojans with 19 points on 3-of-4 shooting from deep.
Ware scored 18 points off the bench and finished a rebound shy of a double-double with nine boards. Jervis finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. Vogler also scored in double figures with 12 points.
Troy out-rebounded UL 32-28 and won the bench scoring battle 26 to 17.
The Trojans are back in action Saturday, as they host South Alabama for their final home game of the season. Tip-off is set for 7:30 pm. The Trojans’ four seniors will be honored with a pre-game ceremony before tip-off.