Troy basketball falls to Mercer at home

Published 10:16 am Thursday, December 22, 2022

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The Troy Trojans men’s basketball team (8-5) closed out the non-conference portion of their schedule on Wednesday at home in a frustrating 82-79 loss to the Mercer Bears (7-6).

It was Troy’s first loss at home this season and snapped the Trojans’ two-game winning streak. Troy fell behind 41-32 at halftime but Troy outscored Mercer in the second half and cut the lead to four points or less multiple times. The Trojans managed a 6-0 run in the final 21 seconds to cut the lead down to three points but it wasn’t enough.

Troy forced 14 turnovers and turned the ball over just nine times themselves, while Mercer won the battle on the boards grabbing 30 rebounds to Troy’s 24. Mercer also shot 56.6 percent from the field compared to Troy’s 48.3 percent shooting. Both teams shot 77.8 percent at the free throw line but the three-point line is where things cost the Trojans. Troy knocked down just 7-of-24 three attempts (29.2 percent), while Mercer hit 8-of-15 (53.3 percent).

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“It was very disappointing, especially on the defensive end of the floor,” Troy coach Scott Cross said. “To give up 82 points on your home court, you’re not going to win games that way. To have a team shoot 57 percent from the floor, you’re not going to win games that way.

“We preach defense constantly to our guys, but we just didn’t have enough grittiness or toughness tonight. We (have) to do a better job as a staff and I have to do a better job getting our guys together.”

Zay Williams had a big night for Troy with 20 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while Christyon Eugene scored 19 points and dished four assists. Darius McNeill chipped in with 17 points and four rebounds. Williams was the only Trojan with more than four rebounds in the loss. Jalyn McCreary led Mercer with 22 points and nine rebounds.

The Trojans hit the road on Dec. 29 as Sun Belt Conference play begins at Southern Miss.