ATLANTA – The Troy women’s basketball team erased a 13-point, second-half deficit, but Georgia State closed on a 10-2 run and defeated the Trojans, 85-77, in the Sun Belt opener for each team on Wednesday.
After trailing 67-54 with 9:55 to go in the game, Troy (4-8, 0-1) battled back and tied the game at 73-73 with 2:03 remaining. Joanna Harden made six straight free throws in three possessions to pull Troy even.
With the game tied, 75-75, and 1:00 remaining, Georgia State’s Haley Gerrin got a layup to give the Panthers the lead. Alisha Andrews then quickly stole Troy’s inbound pass, dished the ball off to Kendra Long and Long gave GSU a four-point lead with a layup.
Georgia State (5-8, 1-0), the Sun Belt’s top free throw shooting team, made 6-of-6 after that spurt to ice the game.
Harden scored a game-high 23 points, including a 10-of-10 mark at the free throw line, despite picking up her fourth foul with 11 minutes to go in the game. Ronita Garrett and Dominique Ross each posted a double-double as Troy’s frontline played well.
Garrett recorded 14 points, 12 boards and six assists while Ross had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Kourtney Coleman also played well for Troy, scoring nine points on a perfect 4-of-4 from the field. Troy’s post players held 6-foot-4 Brittany Logan to seven points and five rebounds.
“We did see improvements in a lot of areas, both as a team and with several individual players,” Troy head coach Chanda Rigby said. “We just have to continue build off of those improvements until we turn them into wins.”
The Panthers also had a double-digit lead in the first half before Troy battled back to take a one-point lead with 4:00 to go before the break. However, Georgia State shot the ball well from deep, especially in the first half, and held a five-point advantage at halftime.
Georgia State made 5-of-10 3-pointers in the first half, but hit just 1-of-4 in the second frame. The Panthers, however, did shoot 47 percent (15-of-32) overall in the second half while Troy shot just 36 percent (15-of-42).
Troy’s conference-opening loss came despite taking a season-high 90 shots, as the Trojans shot just 33 percent (30-of-90) overall and 21 percent (4-of-19) from deep. The Trojans grabbed a season-high 53 boards, including 20 offensively for 14 second-chance points.
Georgia State was led by Gerrin’s 17 points while Gaby Moss had 16, despite playing just 11 minutes in the second half. Moss hit 4-of-5 3-pointers as part of GSU’s 6-of-14 effort.
Andrews scored 13 and added to her Sun Belt leading assist total with seven dimes. Kendra Long and Kayla Nolan rounded out five in double figures with 11 points each.
The Trojans return to the floor on Saturday when WKU visits Trojan Arena for a 2:30 p.m. tipoff. WKU also opened Sun Belt play on the road Wednesday, falling at South Alabama, 74-65.
For more information on Troy Athletics, visit TroyTrojans.com. Fans can also find Troy on Twitter and Instagram at @TroyAthletics and on Facebook at Facebook.com/TroyAthletics.