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Trojans drop thriller at Trojan Arena

Michael Vogler managed a desperation three-pointer for Troy as time expired, but it fell short handing the Trojans an 83-81 loss at the hands of Louisiana Lafayette in Sun Belt Conference basketball action Saturday at Trojan Arena.

ULL’s Tyren Johnson went to the line for the first time of the game and hit a pair to give his squad a three-point lead, 81-78.

Brandon Hazzard missed a jumper in the paint for the Trojans and Troy had to foul once more sending Xavier Adiefe to the line for two shots and a chance to make it a two possession game with less than 10 seconds to play. Adiefe hit both to make it a five-point game.

Vogler took the ball for the Trojans and drilled a three-pointer to cut the lead to 83-81. Another Trojan foul sent Travis Bureau to the line once more. For the first time on the night he missed a free-throw setting up Vogler’s final try.

Bureau finished the game with a team-high 21 points, including hitting 10-of-11 free throws. As a team UL hit 16-of-23 shots from the charity stripe, compared to the Trojans’ 10-of-20. The loss dropped Troy to 7-10 on the year and 2-3 in conference action.

The Cajuns (6-9, 3-2 SBC) also hit a season-high and tied a school record with 15 three-pointers on 26 attempts.

“Tonight they were feeling it,” Troy head coach Don Maestri said. “They’ve got three really outstanding three-point shooters. We were playing some really solid man-to-man defense. We were really right in their faces.”

Troy forced UL into 17 turnovers, compared to committing just seven, but could never get over the hump and take the lead.

“There was a point in the game with a few minutes left when we got two or three really good defensive stops in a row, but we couldn’t cash in,” Maestri said.

Chris Gradnigo hit a three-pointer on the wing with 15:45, starting a string of three consecutive possessions where Louisiana Lafayette connected on threes from deep to put the Cajuns up 17-7 with 13:49 remaining in the first half.

The Trojans went cold until Kenny Ware hit his and the Trojans first three, but Gradnigo answered right back with three more for Louisiana. Hazzard kept the string going with a Troy three and after a Cajuns lay-up, Travis Lee picked up a loose ball and drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key in transition to cut UL’s lead to 10 points, 25-15 with 11:20 to go in the opening half.

Lee got a runner in the lane to go and then found Mario Telfair down low for two on the next possession to cut the Cajun lead to just four points, 25-21, capping a 6-0 Troy run.

The Trojans tied the game on buckets by Richard Delk and Hazzard with 5:43 left in the first half, but in a matter of seconds Daigle and Johnson hit deep bombs to run their lead back to six points.

The Trojans trailed 48-42 at halftime.

The Trojans started off the second half in a strong way with Delk pinning a Gradnigo lay up on the backboard and taking it coast-to-coast before dishing it off to Hazzard for a wide-open three pointer just 22 seconds into the half.

Vogler drilled his first three of the night three minutes into the second half to cut the UL lead to 53-50.

Jervis completed a three-point play and Lee drilled a three-pointer to cut the Ragin’ Cajuns lead to 66-62. Then Vogler picked up a steal on the next possession and laid it in at the other end to draw within two points at 66-64.

Bureau completed a three-point play the hard way, hitting three free throws after being fouled by Vogler, throwing UL’s lead back to six points with 3:19 to go.

The Cajuns were called for a five second penalty after failing to get the ball inbounds and on the subsequent possession, Vogler found Telfair down low for two points, cutting the deficit to 79-76 with just less than two minutes on the clock.

Delk grabbed a rebound after a Ryan McCoy miss and was fouled. He went to Troy’s end and drained two free throws to trim the lead to just one point, 79-78. The shots from the charity stripe completed a 7-2 Trojans run. Delk grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds for the game and scored 13 points.

Hazzard paced the Trojans with 22 points, and Ware added a season-high 13 points and five rebounds. Also scoring in double-figures for the Cajuns was Gradnigo with 17 and Johnson with 13 and nine rebounds.

The Trojans are in action next on Thursday when they travel to face in-state rival South Alabama in more Sun Belt Conference action. Tip-off is set for 7 pm.