Trojans look to build on conference win

Published 10:08 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Forward Tim Owens described it as “the biggest road win” in his two seasons with Troy Head coach Don Maestri called it a “huge confidence builder”. However one describes it, Troy’s 67-65 win at the E.A. Diddle Area over Western Kentucky on Saturday was a much-needed one for the Trojans.

Tied at 65-65 with just seconds remaining, Maestri’s plan was to give Emil Jones the final shot. The Trojans (6-9, 1-3) cleared the lane for Jones except for Owens. When the Hilltopper defender guarding Owens stepped up to help guard Jones the junior floated a pass to his 6-foot, 9-inch teammate who dropped it in for the decided bucket.

“His (Jones) basketball savvy is what made the play,” Maestri said. “We opened it up for him and he made a great basketball play.”

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Owens has played improved basketball of late. The senior, who began playing basketball at the junior college level, has become a nuisance for opposing offenses of late.

“He has become an irritant for opponents in the paint,” said Maestri. “He is altering shots and has been blocking shots more regularly.”

Owens finished his junior season with just 10 blocks. Thus far, Owens has blocked a team-high 28 shot attempts and set a career mark of six on Jan. 5 against Middle Tennessee State.

The Trojans build a 14-point lead after trailing, 36-30, at halftime against Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers would use a 9-0 run midway through the second half to cut their deficit to six, 58-52.

“The kids absolutely refused to let Western take the lead back,” Maestri said. “They made a stand and the fashion that it ended made the win all the more important.”

Troy has lost three straight to open conference play for the second consecutive season. Last year, the Trojans opened with losses to Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas-Little Rock before finishing 6-10 in the Sun Belt Conference.

With their first conference victory of the season under their belts, the Trojans now look to build on that success with three consecutive home games beginning Saturday with South Alabama.

Troy is 6-10 all-time versus South Alabama and 2-4 against the Jaguars at home.

Tip from Sartain Hall is set for 8 p.m.