Target practice: Hot shooting Chanticleers down Trojans in Sun Belt Conference opener

Published 9:42 pm Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Troy Trojans had little answers in an 88-75 loss to the hot-shooting Costal Carolina Chanticleers in the Sun Belt Conference opener on Thursday evening.

The loss drops the Trojans to 0-1 in conference play and 7-6 overall.

“We had a lot of momentum going into this game and it certainly got taken away from us tonight,” said head coach Phil Cunningham. “Give them credit. We certainly weren’t at our best, but give them credit; they were really good tonight.”

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The Trojans were without senior and leading scorer Jordon Varnado in the loss.

“It’s a one-game suspension,” Cunningham said. “He will be back Saturday. He is a young man who made a mistake. He paid his price, now move on. He will bounce back and be ready on Saturday.”

In Varnado’s absence, Alex Hicks finished with eight points after making just one of his seven shots. He finished with eight points.

“In hindsight, we may have put too much pressure on him,” Cunningham said. “Our gameplan was to play through him. They knew with Jordon being out, they came before he even had the ball. He got the walk call early and I thought it got in his head a little bit and then he struggled to make shots the rest of the way.”

Long-distance shooting paved the way for the Chanticleers. Coastal Carolina knocked down 15 of their 25 three pointers, good enough for 60 percent.

“They were the best three-point shooting team in the league,” Cunningham said. “One of the most efficient offenses in the league. They really made shots.”

The Trojans scored the game’s first five points, including a three by Javon Johnson.

Trailing 5-0, the Chanticleers embarked on a 15-0 run to take a double-digit lead. The Trojans went nearly five minutes without scoring a point.

The Trojans briefly got it back to within single digits, but a 9-0 run by the Chanticleers pushed Troy’s deficit out to 16 at 27-11.

“We made a couple of runs,” Cunningham said. “We had it down to six with the ball; we came down, turned the ball over and fouled them. It goes from a chance to cut it down to four or three – now we are down eight.”

The Chanticleers converted on 7 of 11 three-pointers in the first half. They used the three-point shot late in the half when they entered halftime on a 13-3 run. They led by as many as 16 and went into the locker room leading 44-32.

The Chanticleers continued their run out of the break. They scored the first 10 points after halftime to get stretch their lead to 23, forcing the Trojans to call a timeout trailing 55-32.

The Trojans trailed by as many as 23 points in the second half before clawing back late.

Charles Norman led the way for the Trojans, scoring 16 points on 3-5 shooting. B.J. Miller and Devante Foster had 12 and 11 points respectively.

The Trojans will be back in action on Saturday when they welcome in Appalachian State. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m.