Troy Men lose to North Dakota in Paradise Classic

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Trojans fought back from a 14- point second-half deficit but would eventually fall to North Dakota 72-74 in the opening game of the Paradise Classic from Boca Raton Friday night.

“It was a hard-fought game, and I’m proud of our guys on how they competed out there,” head coach Scot Cross said. “We weren’t as connected or efficient on both ends of the floor, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to get it done, but we have a quick turnaround and play tomorrow and a game that we have to be ready for.”

Troy (2-2) was led by Efe Odigie, who totaled 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Coming off the bench, Kieffer Punter also scored 15 points, including 3-3 from three-point range. The Trojans had 20 turnovers which were double that of North Dakota, who had 10. Duke Miles made his first appearance of the season for the Trojans after an injury had kept him out the first three games finishing with five points in seven minutes.

North Dakota (2-1) was led by Mitchell Sueker, who had a game-high 25 points in 32 minutes on 7-13 shooting, including 3-5 from behind the three-point line. North Dakota was able to secure 35 rebounds, two more than Troy, who finished with 33.

After going down five in the first half, which saw scoreboard issues disrupt the game’s flow, Troy would have to rely on its defense to get back into it.

Duke Deen was handed a technical foul at the 11:25 mark of the second half to put North Dakota up 14 points, but a Christyon Eugene steal was followed by a Miles steal to get Troy within 10 points with the game 59-49.

The defensive pressure would continue, resulting in North Dakota missing shots and Troy securing the defensive rebounds and pushing it up the court.

Punter would score the next three Trojan baskets after a layup and two three-pointers, and Troy would only be down five with six minutes remaining.

Trojans worked for offensive rebounds as well, as Nick Stampley was able to come down with a Trojan miss and kick it back out to Deen for a three, and the Trojans were only down four with two minutes left.

The final minute came down to back-and-forth free throws in which Troy would convert to keep it a one-possession game. After making the first free throw to get within two with only three seconds left, Deen intentionally missed the second in hopes of an offensive put-back.

The ball looked to have gone out of bounds off North Dakota, but North Dakota kept possession after an official review.

With only seconds left, Zay Williams got a steal off an inbound pass and passed it to Punter, who put up a half-court shot that grazed the net and ended the game.

Up next: The Trojans will take on UT-Martin tomorrow, Saturday, November 20, at 2 pm in the second game of the Paradise Classic.

Categories: Troy