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Trojans look to finish season strong

With the regular season now at an end, the Troy women’s basketball team is set to open play at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament today at 12:15 p.m. in Hot Springs, Ark.

The Trojans are the No. 9 seed, and will take on No. 8 seed Arkansas State.

The two teams met in the regular season finale, when the Trojans defeated the Red Wolves 75-69.

Troy head coach Michael Murphy said the win should give his team a morale boost coming into the tournament.

“The thing winning that game does is it gives us confidence,” Murphy said. “It’s a huge deal to go and win on their home floor and to be able to score 75 points doing it. 75 points is a lot of points, whether you’re at home or away.”

The game took place just one week ago, meaning the memories of the Red Wolves should still be fresh on the minds of the Trojans.

“Another thing playing them within a week does is it gives us a sense of familiarity,” Murphy said. “No one’s going to change what they do at this point in the season, so it helps that it’s not someone we played six or seven weeks ago.”

While the recent meeting between the two teams does give Troy some advantages, there are also some things that Arkansas State can use to its advantage.

“We beat them on their home court, so I’m sure they’re going to come in with some added incentive,” Murphy said. “There’s the revenge factor, which I’m sure their coach has reminded them of all week in practice.”

In order for Troy to see a similar result, Murphy said the Trojans must get a high level of play from their bench.

“The reason for our success last time was great play from the bench,” Murphy said. “Mookie Smith really shot the ball well, and Cortney Hawkins, even though she didn’t score, impacted the game with her rebounding.”

While the game against Arkansas State is the first test for Troy this weekend, it may not be the only one.

Since it is tournament play, the Trojans could potentially play as many as four games in Hot Springs.

However, advancing in the tournament will not be an easy task.

“Anytime you get in tournament play, there are three things you have to do,” Murphy said. “First and foremost, you have to shoot the ball well. That really is critical. You’re not going to win if you shoot under 40 percent from the floor or under 70 percent from the free throw line. That’s just a fact of life.”

In addition to shooting, Murphy said staying healthy and rebounding the basketball well are key.

“Secondly, you have to stay away from injury,” Murphy said. “Finally, you have to be able the rebound. You’re not going to surprise anybody. Everybody knows your sets, your patterns and your tendencies.”

Troy and Arkansas State tip off at 12:15 p.m. today, and the winner will advance to play UALR Sunday at noon.