BURN THE HORSE
The final game statistics showed that Troy only shot 38.1 percent from the field against UALR on Thursday. That would indicate a pretty solid defensive effort.
And from a defensive field goal percentage standpoint, it was – at least in the final minutes as UALR rallied for a 58-56 victory over Troy.
But Troy was still shooting 43 percent late in the second half. Then they made only 1 of their final 9 field goal attempts. That dropped them down to the 38 percent final total.
UALR definitely turned up the heat defensively down the stretch. But they didn’t bring the rebounding with it. Troy got four additional opportunities in the final minutes after offensive rebounds.
After Will Neighbour tied the game at 53-53 with a free throw with 2:39 left, UALR had to get defensive stops. This didn’t happen a few minutes earlier when the Trojans had taken a brief lead.
Thanks to two offensive rebounds, Troy got three shots on its next possession before John Gillon pulled down the rebound.
UALR executed perfectly at the other end. Leroy Isler passed to Neighbour who turned and hit a short jumper for a 55-53 lead with 1:05 left.
This time UALR got a much cleaner stop. Troy’s Denota Jethroe missed a three-pointer and Josh Hagins grabbed the rebound. He got the ball to Gillon who was fouled with 32 seconds left. Gillon hit both free throws for a 57-53 lead and UALR got the stop it needed at the other end when Jethroe missed a jumper. But as Hagins grabbed the rebound he tried to pass and it resulted in a turnover. Seconds later, Troy’s Williams nailed a three-pointer and the score was 57-56 with 10 seconds left.
After a timeout, UALR got the ball inbounds to Hagins, who was fouled. He made the first free throw but missed the second for a 58-56 score.
UALR had only committed three team fouls in the second half and could foul Troy three times without sending Troy to the free throw line. But UALR didn’t foul and Troy got off a game-tying shot. It hit the front of the rim and was no good as UALR held on.
UALR Coach Steve Shields wasn’t asked about the fouls to give in the postgame press conference. We don’t know what instructions he gave the players in the final seconds.
But in reality, it doesn’t matter. UALR won and improved to 1-0 in the Sun Belt Conference.