Troy men, women pick up conference wins

Published 9:45 am Friday, January 13, 2023

Both the Troy Trojans men’s and women’s basketball teams picked up conference wins on Thursday night.

The women’s team (9-7, 4-1) defeated the ULM Warhawks by a score of 92-74 after a big second half. The two sides battled back-and-forth in the first half with the Trojans taking a 42-35 lead into halftime.

The second half, though, was all Troy. The Trojans had multiple 6-0 and 8-0 runs in the half and outscored ULM 30-16 in the third quarter to swell the lead to 72-51 going into the final period. Troy led by as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter.

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“The game plan was to try and keep them out of the paint but we didn’t do a good job of that in the first half,” Troy coach Chanda Rigby said. “We did much better in the second half. We played better defense (in the second half) and we didn’t give up quite as much in the paint.

“I think we had some reserves like Gabbi (Cartagena) come in and really contribute. Shania Nunn came in and hit a big three and made a great pass before that. A lot of those things helped build momentum.”

Troy forced 23 turnovers and scored 32 points off those turnovers, while winning the battle in the paint 38-36. The Trojans shot 41.5 percent from the field, while holding ULM to 35.2 percent shooting. The three-point line was completely dominated by Troy, as well, with the Trojans knocking down 5-of-12 attempts compared to ULM’s one three-point field goal in the entire game.

Louisiana transfer Makayia Hallmon led the way for Troy with 21 points and four assists.

“I just felt like I had to come out and change the game,” Hallmon said of her performance. “We were a little on the sluggish side, so I figured if I picked up the pace, everyone else would. We had no energy in the first half but we came out with a lot of energy and a different mindset in the second half.”

In her third game since returning to Troy, Amber Leggett picked up her first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Gabbi Cartagena added nine points and two steals, while both Nia Daniel and Tai’Sheka Porchia had eight points each.

This was Troy’s 12th straight contest without Preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year Felmas Koranga, who is recovering from an injury. While Rigby didn’t have a timetable for Koranga’s return to the court, she did say that the Trojans expect her back this season.

“She’s working hard every day and getting better and stronger every day,” Rigby said of Koranga.

Kieffer Punter (0) led Troy to a road win over Georgia State on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Troy University Athletics)

The men’s team (12-6, 4-1) also picked up a Sun Belt win on the road Thursday over the Georgia State Panthers by a score of 65-53.

The win puts Troy in a three-way tie for first place in the Sun Belt and is the Trojans’ fourth straight win. After the two sides battled back-and-forth for much of the game, Troy started to pull away with a 9-0 run late in the second half and outscored GSU 35-26 in the second half.

The Trojans were dominant in the paint, outscoring Georgia State 40-20, and forcing 20 turnovers with 12 steals as a team.

“It was a huge win. Our guys were really locked in and gritted it out,” Troy coach Scott Cross said. “That 17-1 run was huge for our team. It’s the third conference game where we get that huge late game run. These guys are figuring out how to win.

“Obviously, it happens with defense. Our guys forced 20 turnovers with 12 steals. And to hold them under 40 percent from the field is phenomenal. That’s what it takes to win on the road. Just overall a huge win for our guys.”

Senior Kieffer Punter led the way with 16 points, four rebounds and two steals, while Zay Williams added 12 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Darius McNeill scored 10 points, grabbed three steals, dished four assists and earned six rebounds as he filled up the stat sheet. Nelson Phillips also chipped in with seven points, two assists, three steals, one block and six rebounds. Christyon Eugene scored nine points and tallied five assists.

The women’s team is back at home this Saturday against Louisiana in another conference matchup at 4 p.m. the men’s team will face Appalachian State on Saturday at 4 p.m., as well.