By Josh Brown
SPRINGFIELD — The Troy girls basketball team knew exactly what Springfield freshman Mickayla Perdue was capable of — and, for the most part, the Trojans did a solid job of limiting her.
One lapse, though, was all it took.
Perdue hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter, turning what had been a two-point Trojan lead into a four-point Wildcat one, and that brief sequence proved to be the difference in a balanced and competitive game, a 32-29 Springfield victory over Troy on the road Saturday afternoon.
“With the Perdue girl, she’s a freshman that’s pretty talented, so we had to tune our defense to her,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “We held her down the entire game, and then she got loose. And credit to their coach and her team for getting her open, but we tried not to allow her to get open looks. She got two of them — and she drained them.”
Perdue — the second-leading scorer in the Greater Western Ohio Conference coming in, averaging 22.8 points per game — was held to only five first-half points, with the score being tied 15-15 at the break. She hit a floater on the first possession of the third to briefly give Springfield the lead, but Troy got a bucket inside by Alaura Holycross and a 3 by Jordan Short to put the Trojans back on top, 20-17.
With the score 20-18, though, the Trojans committed their 20th turnover of the game, and Perdue pulled up in transition and canned a 3 to put the Wildcats on top. The Trojans promptly turned it over again, and Perdue drilled another 3 to make it 24-20, with Springfield leading 24-22 going into the fourth quarter.
That was enough for Springfield, though, which got a three-point play from Arianna Rinehart to kick off the fourth and build a five-point lead. Troy trailed by as many as seven at 30-23 midway through the quarter and didn’t connect on a field goal until the game’s final minute when Holycross scored inside to cut the deficit to 32-26. A 3 before the buzzer by MaKenna Taylor made it a three-point game, but by then it was too late.
Springfield snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 7-5 with the win, while Troy — which had just snapped a two-game losing streak of its own Wednesday night with its best offensive performance of the season at Stebbins — fell to 6-7. And while Johnson was happy with his Trojans’ defensive performance Saturday, the offense regressed a bit.
“We held them 24 point under their average,” Johnson said. “They average 56 points per game. If you would’ve told me Springfield would only score 32 points, I would’ve said that we win. But we had 27 turnovers — we lost by three, and that’s 27 opportunities where we didn’t cash in.
“Springfield is taller and longer, and they’re also quick Both teams (Stebbins and Springfield) are similar aggressively, but team speed-wise, Springfield is probably one of the quickest teams that we’ve played so far, and one of the longest teams.”
The numbers were all fairly even on Saturday, with both teams connecting on 10 2-pointers and two 3-pointers in the game. Troy was 3 for 10 from the free throw line, though — and though Springfield shot equally poorly from the line, going 6 for 22, it made enough to hang onto its lead in the fourth quarter, going 4 for 14 once the Trojans were forced to foul late in an attempt to catch up.
Troy was also outrebounded 34-30 in the game and committed 26 turnovers to the Wildcats’ 17.
“I think defensively, we’re not great, but we’re playing pretty well,” Johnson said. “To hold a team the caliber of Springfield to 32 points at their place I think says something about the tenacity and intensity with which we played on defense. Now, offensively, the words that come to mind is sloppy, rushed and not very confident in our offensive schemes. However, when we execute them, they work. But today, we missed a lot of shots we normally would make.”
And in the end, those misses — Troy went 12 for 43 (27.9 percent) from the field in the game — coupled with Perdue’s clutch makes in the third made the difference.
Perdue finished with a game-high 16 points for Springfield, while Makayla DeArmond added eight points and 10 rebounds. Rinehart scored four points, Julona Martin scored two and Caralyssa Byrd and Takoya Massey each scored one.
Holycross led the Trojans with nine points and 10 rebounds, Short had seven points, Taylor had six points, Tia Bass had five points and eight rebounds and Laura Borchers scored two points.
Things don’t get any easier for Troy, either. Wednesday, the Trojans will get a look at the GWOC’s leading scorer, hosting Trotwood and Shaiquel McGruder, who averages 26.1 points per game.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.