CONWAY, S.C. – Junior forward Aja Blount and senior guard Kaylin West each scored 20 points but Coastal Carolina’s gallant effort fell just short as the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division leader Troy pulled away in the final minutes for a 97-82 women’s basketball win on Friday night at the HTC Center.
Senior forward Alexus Dye scored a game-high 23 points and carried the Trojans down the stretch, scoring 10 points in the final 4:17 to lift her team to its seventh consecutive win. Troy is now 18-5 overall and 14-2 in conference play. Coastal slipped to 3-13 overall and 0-12 in the league but played perhaps its best game of the season.
Blount registered her fourth consecutive double-double and West tied her career-high in points while the two dished out five assists apiece. It was the third time Blount has hit for 20 or more points this season, and the 5′11″ inside force led the Chants with 10 rebounds. Coastal had three more in double figures in the high-scoring affair with junior center Janae Camp scoring 12 points, sophomore guard Deaja Richardson with 11 points, and graduate student Olivia Smith scoring 10 points in just 12 minutes of action off of the bench in the second half.
All five starters chipped in to get Coastal off to a fast start as the Chanticleers took an 11-6 lead on Richardson’s free throw midway through the first quarter. But after hitting six of its first nine shots from the field, CCU went without a field goal for eight minutes. By the time they recovered, the Chanticleers were in a 25-17 hole and the Trojans stayed in front the rest of the way.
Troy slowly stretched its lead until it was 45-33, but Tyra Brown scored the last basket of the first half to keep Coastal within striking distance at 45-35. Each team had balanced scoring in the half, with Troy already getting nine players in the scoring column. West led the Chants with nine points, while Blount and Camp had eight each.
The two teams traded baskets to start the third quarter until Blount hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut Troy’s lead to just five at 64-59 with less than two minutes to go in the period. It was as close as the Chants had been since the middle of the first quarter.
Smith made it even more interesting by hitting a three-pointer to start the final quarter, cutting the Trojans’ margin to just four at 67-63. But Coastal couldn’t get any closer. Troy responded with a 12-4 run to hold off Coastal the rest of the way.
The visiting Trojans, who came into the game averaging 87 points a game, had four players in double figures. In addition to Dye, Jasmine Robinson had 16, and Felmus Koranga and Janiah Sandifer each had 10.
Both teams shot nearly the same percentages (47 percent) from the field and from beyond the arc (42 percent), but the Trojans converted 15 free throws (15-of-20) while the Chants only made 7-of-13 attempts. Troy held a narrow 45-41 advantage on the boards, with Dye leading her team with 12 rebounds.
The two teams will be back in action for a rematch on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 3 p.m. ET in the regular-season finale for both squads. Prior to the game, Coastal Carolina will recognize seniors West and Camp and graduate students Smith and Ashley Saintigene.