By Josh Brown
TROY — Oakwood’s Courtney Eggleston’s one field goal in the game was the one that hurt most.
But the mountain of free throws she hit before then are what made it truly count.
After Troy freshman Kiyha Adkins scored a go-ahead layup that gave Troy a two-point lead with 1:45 left to play, Eggleston hit a wide-open 3-pointer that put the Jills back in front, and she hit free throws down the stretch to ice it as the Trojans fell to 0-2 with a 46-42 loss in their home opener Tuesday night at the Trojan Activities Center.
Despite hitting only the one shot from the field, Eggleston finished with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds, going 17 for 18 from the free throw line as the Jills (2-1) were a supremely efficient 27 for 33 as a team. In fact, Eggleston hit her first 17 attempts from the line before finally missing on her final try of the night with less than 10 seconds left.
Still, it was the 3 that stung most. With the score tied 40-40, Troy’s Kennedi Kyzer dished to Adkins, who drove to the basket effortlessly and finished the layup to give the Trojans a 42-40 lead — only to have Eggleston put the Jills up 43-42 seconds later.
“We went up 42-40, then we changed our defense for one second to try to keep them from going to the free throw line again,” Troy girls basketball coach Nathan Kopp said. “Then (Eggleston) hits that wide-open 3 with no one guarding her.
“Still, we go 10 for 24 from the free throw line, and they go 27 for 33. Defensively, we did some good things, but we just fouled them too much. We go 10 for 24, and that just absolutely kills us again. The girls all play hard, but we’ve got to get them making better decisions in game situations.”
Kyzer — who scored 20 points in her return to the Trojans, a 45-36 season-opening loss at Northwestern — led Troy with 11 points despite having an off night in her first game at the Trojan Activities Center since Feb. 10, 2014. The junior was 0 for 6 from 3-point range and 1 for 7 from the free throw line, but she still scored seven second-half points to keep Troy in the game late.
Meanwhile, her Trojan teammates all picked up their games. Bailey Hess had six points — including a buzzer-beating 3 at the end of the third quarter that put Troy up 35-31 at the time — and eight rebounds, Sierra Besecker added six points and Adkins had five points, five rebounds and four steals. Alaura Holycross and Baily Dornbusch had four points each, Stephanie Chavis had three points and six rebounds and Kayla Niswonger had three points.
“We need some more balanced scoring,” Kopp said. “We can’t be relying on one girl to do all of our scoring.
“We did not shoot well from the outside tonight. After the Northwestern game, we kept telling the girls ‘get to the basket, get to the basket.’ And I thought we did that tonight. We got to the basket, but whether we were fading away or going in too out of control, we just didn’t finish drives.”
Lauren Turner added 15 points and eight rebounds for Oakwood, going 7 for 11 from the free throw line.
The Jills were 13 for 16 from the line at halftime and clinging to a 22-20 lead before the Trojans went on a 7-0 run to begin the third quarter. Kyzer scored inside to tie the game and Adkins hit a free throw to give Troy the lead, then Maddy Taylor grabbed a defensive rebound and hit Besecker for a layup. On the next trip, Taylor stole the ball and Hess finished a fast break to make it 27-20 Troy and force an Oakwood timeout with 5:27 left in the third.
Later, a Kyzer steal led to an Adkins layup to give Troy a 32-28 lead, but Turner converted a three-point play to cut the lead to one again. With time winding down in the third, Hess made a clutch hustle play, saving a rebound going out of bounds, then she got in position, took a pass from Besecker and hit a 3 at the buzzer to give Troy a four-point lead going into the fourth.
But Turner hit a 3 on the first possession of the final quarter to erase that advantage, and a series of four free throws by Eggleston eventually gave Oakwood a 39-36 lead. Kyzer scored on an in-bounds play to cut the lead to one, and Dornbusch hit a pair of free throws to give Troy the lead before a Turner free throw tied the score with 2:05 to play.
That set up Adkins’ clutch layup — and Eggleston’s clutch answer.
“This game was won and lost with the little things,” Kopp said. “We did some good things, but in crunch time we’ve just got to get the kids in the right spots to make better decisions. We’ve got to have the basketball IQ to know what to do, and that’s our job as coaches to get them there.”
Troy hosts Springfield Shawnee Monday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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