Trojans lose early lead in loss to Eagles

Published 3:00 am Friday, February 12, 2016

By Michael Shipma

The Troy men’s basketball team couldn’t hold on to an early lead and suffered another close conference loss at home to Georgia Southern 71-77 on Thursday night in Trojan Arena.

The Trojans (7-17, 2-11 Sun Belt) struggled shooting against an impressive showing from the Eagles (11-12, 7-6 Sun Belt), as Georgia Southern held Troy to just 39 percent shooting from the floor in the contest.

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After racing out to a 14-2 lead in the opening minutes, Troy hit a cold shooting streak, allowing Georgia Southern to go on a 23-10 run over the next several minutes that gave the Eagles a one-point advantage with 5:49 left in the first half.

Sophomore guard Wesley Person played a crucial role for the Trojans in the game, scoring 16 points on 3-12 shooting from beyond the arc to keep things close. However, the Eagles made necessary adjustments on defense, and were able to limit Person’s scoring opportunities in the closing minutes of the opening half. The result was a 28-36 advantage for Georgia Southern going into the locker room.

In the second half, the visitors continued to shoot the ball well, with freshman guard Tookie Brown scoring 20 points on four for eight shooting for the game to go along with hitting all 11 of his free throw attempts.

Both teams tightened up on defense, resulting in both teams having a very low shooting percentage in the second half. After falling behind by 10 with 15:51 left to play, Troy battled their way back into the game behind 20 points from senior forward John Walton III. Walton was a force for the Trojans not only on defense and down low, but also in transition. After finding some offensive rhythm behind his play, Troy brought the score to 41-36 at the 13:49 mark of the second period.

Once again, the Eagles were able to pull away, shooting 9-28 from beyond the arc to maintain their lead down the stretch. Troy had opportunities to shrink Georgia Southern’s lead with the clock stopped with several trips to the free throw line, but 20-24 shooting in that category kept the Eagles ahead.

The Trojans were able to get to within four points with 40 seconds remaining, but were forced to foul, giving the Eagles the chance to stay ahead.

Troy will try to bounce back on Saturday afternoon when they face Georgia State in Trojans Arena. Tipoff is set for 4:15 p.m.