One team struggled to take care of the basketball, while the other struggled to put that same basketball in the hoop. Troy managed to reverse its first-round fortune against Tippecanoe, and came away with its second straight win.
Troy – 2017 has not been kind to the Troy Trojans.
Paul Bremigan’s club entered Tuesday night’s home date with Tippecanoe just 3-10 in the new year, even after a 63-52 win Saturday night over Celina. The Trojans were also a hard to explain 1-7 on Tuesday nights, with the only win a 73-39 decision over winless West Carrollton.
The Red Devils, on the other hand, had erased a tough start to fight their way back to .500. Tipp got its first win on December 20th against the Trojans, and had since won 10 of 16 after that 0-4 start.
When the teams played on December 20th, Tipp scorched the Trojans, shooting 49 % from the floor and making eight threes. Caiden Smith scored 23 points for the Red Devils that night, and freshman Ben Sauls made his first impact, scoring 14 off the bench.
What a difference 6 weeks makes.
Playing before a sparse crowd at the Trojan Activity Center, the Red Devils missed their first four shots as Troy jumped to a 7-0 lead. It was worse in the second quarter, when the Red Devils went scoreless for the first 5 and a half minutes of the period. The Trojans, however, did not fully capitalize, and led just 25-14 at the break.
Tippecanoe found the range in the third quarter, making 6 of 11 from the floor, but couldn’t sustain that momentum in the fourth. The Red Devils were just 3 of 13 in the final eight minutes, and Troy made its free throws down the stretch to secure a 51-41 win.
“We wanted to send the seniors out with a win,” said Bremigan in the coach’s office. “We had Senior night Saturday, so for them to win their last two home games is special. You treasure every win.”
Smith, who scored 22 points in the Red Devils upset of Sidney two weeks ago, didn’t have a field goal, finishing with 4 points. Cade Gingrich, who scored 20 in the Red Devils recent comeback win over Piqua, also didn’t manage a field goal and finished with 4 points. Sauls came off the bench again, but this time the freshman managed just 2 points as the Red Devils sputtered on offense all night.
“It’s the first time I have been disappointed in our effort all year,” said Tippecanoe head coach Joel Visser after his team fell to 10-11. “We took some selfish shots early just not within the rhythm of the offense like we have done all year. We were still in the game down to the final minutes, but we couldn’t shoot the basketball tonight, and I was disappointed with our effort for four quarters.”
Troy managed to maintain its lead despite a nightmare second half handling the basketball. The Trojans had miscues on their first three possessions of the second half, and at one point in the fourth quarter, turned it 7 times in nine possessions. Still, the Trojans 18 turnovers were a far cry from the 24 they had in the first meeting, a 70-56 Tippecanoe win.
“We don’t handle prosperity very well,” Bremigan said, shaking his head. “it’s frustrating. It’s decision making, and just not taking care of the ball. But we always preach that you don’t want to make too many mistakes. If you make a mistake at one end of the floor, get it back at the other. We had a couple of break-downs that gave them layups, but most of the time, we made them pass the ball and take an outside shot. We have to do a better job of handling the ball if we want to beat Piqua and do something in the tournament.”
Troy had managed just three Zach Reichelderfer free throws in the first 5 and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, but Tipp could only cut the lead to 6 at 40-34. Troy senior Zion Taylor then converted a three-point play to put the Trojans in control by nine, and the Red Devils did not challenge again.
Reichelderfer scored 10 of his game high 16 points in the second half to lead the Trojans, now 7-14. No other Trojan was in double figures as eight players scored for the winners.
Tipp got 14 from senior guard Zach Bonifas, but no other Red Devil had more than 8.
Tipp was an icy 13 of 47 from the floor for 28%, while Troy was 17 of 34 for 50%. Tipp shoots 37% from the arc on the season, but was just 2 of 18 against Troy for 11%. Free throws kept the Red Devils in the game, as they were 13 of 17 for 76%. Troy was 4 of 11 shooting threes for 36% and even better at the line, making 13 of 16 for 81%.
“Sometimes you don’t shoot well, that’s just part of the game,” explained Visser. “But you can always bring your effort and you can always play defense, and we just didn’t do that tonight, for whatever reason. Give credit to Troy. They were ready to play and we weren’t. We have to get back in the gym the next couple of days and get back on track Friday at Butler.”
“Our defense hasn’t been very good this year,” Bremigan explained in somewhat of an understatement. The Trojans came into the game allowing 72 points a night, 19th in the 20 team GWOC. “To hold a team like Tipp to 41 is a good effort. I know they didn’t shoot very well, but hopefully we had something to do with that.”
Troy dominated the boards 25-15 and had those 18 turnovers, 11 in the second half, to the Red Devils 11 for the game.
“You want to play your best basketball down the stretch, and we have been,” Visser went on. “You want to be feeling good about yourself going into the tournament. So Friday is a big game for us.”
The Trojans, meanwhile, have a chance to finish the season with a three-game winning streak and a sweep of Piqua if they beat the Indians Friday night at Garbry Gym. The Indians will also be on a two-game winning streak after upsetting Greenville 64-56 on the road Tuesday night. Troy won the first meeting 82-74 on December 23rd.
“It will be a neat atmosphere,” said Bremigan, well aware of the importance of the rivalry. “Heath (Piqua coach Butler) does a nice job and always has his kids ready to play. It’s just like the other rivalries that I have been a part of. The kids will go after each other and leave everything out on the floor.”