Troy (11-15, 7-8) got 33 points from Joanna Harden, including 15-of-18 from the free throw line. Troy hit 23-of-26 free throws in the second half to help seal the win in a battle of the league’s top offense (Troy) and top defense (UALR).
Ashley Beverly-Kelley was also in double figures for Troy with 15 points, including 12 in the first half that kept Troy close after a slow start. For the second straight game, Aissata Maiga was huge for Troy on both ends. The junior picked up 11 points and two steals in a career-high 34 minutes.
UALR (14-11, 9-6) had won four straight entering the game and was giving up just 57 points per game. UALR actually shot a better percentage than Troy, but Troy forced 18 turnovers and committed a season-low eight miscues.
Maiga was key in holding UALR’s main offensive threat, Taylor Gault, to 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting. Troy also bottled up Taylor Ford, who entering the game was third in the conference in assists, as she had just one assist and four turnovers.
“I think this shows how much our team has improved since the first time we played them (UALR),” Troy head coach Chanda Rigby said. “Jo (Harden) is Jo and she’s been consistent, but the difference is our role players rising up and making a difference off the bench.”
Troy’s win was the first in the 13-game series and kept Troy in sixth place in the Sun Belt standings. Troy is now a full game up on seventh-place UL Lafayette who didn’t play on Wednesday, and just one game behind fifth-place Georgia State who lost at UT Arlington on Wednesday.
Troy trailed at the half, 38-36, but turned up the defense pressure in the second half and forced 12 of UALR’s turnovers in the second frame. The turnovers led to transition opportunities for Troy as the homstanding Trojans put up 50 second-half points on UALR.
Troy’s 86 points on Wednesday marked the first time in over eight years (Jan. 12, 2006) that UALR had allowed 80 points against a Sun Belt team. The win was also the fifth straight at home for Troy, with two of the three remaining regular season games set to be played at Trojan Arena.
Each team made just one 3-pointer, but made up for it at the free throw line. Troy made a season-high 33 free throws (33-of-39) while UALR hit 20 (20-of-29). Both sides shot at least 40 percent for the game with UALR (28-of-66, 42 percent) just outshooting Troy (26-of-65, 40 percent).
An 8-0 run in the second half was the difference for Troy as it broke a 55-55 tie. During and around the run, Troy held UALR without a field goal for over seven minutes as the lead never got to less than five points down the stretch.
Troy returns to the floor on Saturday when they travel to UL Monroe for the final road game of the regular season. Troy is just one game ahead of UL Monroe in the Sun Belt standings after the Warhawks defeated South Alabama on Wednesday night.