By Josh Brown
TROY — A blocked shot that led to a Jon Alessandro dunk in transition, giving Beavercreek a double-digit lead at the time, could have been the knockout blow.
And while the Trojans continued fighting, drawing all the way back to within one point, they never could take control themselves.
Troy (4-9) had multiple chances with the ball to either tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover matchup against Beavercreek, but the Beavers held off each one and were able to hold on for a 65-61 victory at the Trojan Activities Center, handing the Trojans their third straight loss.
With the score 56-53 late in the fourth quarter, Estevan Stafford stole the ball, hit a free throw to make it a two-point game and missed the second — but the Trojans got the rebound. They missed a pair of shots in the paint that could have tied the score, though, yet Stafford scrambled for a loose rebound on the floor and called timeout. But two more misses inside later, the Beavers finally pulled down a rebound and took it the other way, getting a layup to make it a two-possession game — where they kept it most of the way.
“We missed some shots in the fourth quarter where we could’ve gotten the lead,” Troy boys basketball coach Paul Bremigan said. “It’s important, when you’ve been playing from behind the whole game, to be able to take a lead when you get the chance. A lot of times, this game came down to a couple possessions here and there, and we just couldn’t get over the hump tonight.”
The teams traded the lead four times in the first quarter, but the Beavers (3-11) held a slim 13-10 edge. But after a pull-up 3 by Romello Yaqub got the Trojans to within two at 15-13 early in the second, Beavercreek went on an 11-3 run, punctuated by a blocked Trojan shot that went sailing past halfcourt — where Alessandro scooped it up and took it the rest of the way to throw down a one-handed dunk, making the score 26-16 and forcing a Troy timeout with 3:50 left in the half.
But the Trojans (4-9) fought back, scoring the next seven straight before a Beavercreek bucket with 3.3 seconds on the clock made it a 28-23 game at the break.
Beavercreek rebuilt a eight-point lead in the third at 38-30, but Troy went on an 8-1 run — with Yaqub converting a three-point play and then scoring on another drive to keep the Trojans alive. After a Beaver free throw, Yaqub found Stafford open for 3 to get the Trojans to within one at 39-38 before an Alessandro jumper gave the Beavers a three-point lead heading into the fourth.
Jackson Back and Alessandro hit consecutive 3s to start the fourth and give the Beavers a 47-40 lead, but Stafford answered with another 3 to keep Troy in it. Austin Funderburg converted a three-point play to cut the lead to 49-46, Alessandro answered with a three-point play of his own to make it a six-point game — and then Yaqub cashed in yet another three-point play to make it 52-49.
“Romello played really well tonight,” Bremigan said. “He was aggressive, drove the basketball into the defense and got to the free throw line. It’s been a while since he’s done that. It was good to see.”
With the score 54-51, a steal by Stafford led to a pair of free throws by Mechia Linton to get the Trojans to within one with 4:12 to play. Drew Prater hit a pair of free throws to make it 56-53 and Beavercreek got a stop — only to have Stafford steal the ball right back. One free throw, four offensive rebounds and too many misses later, Back finally scored for Beavercreek to make it a four-point game with 2:20 left. The Beavers were 4 for 5 from the line down the stretch — and 12 for 13 altogether in the fourth — to put the game away.
Yaqub led all scorers with 29 points — 21 of those coming in the second half — hitting three of the Trojans’ seven 3s going 6 for 6 from the free throw line and adding two assists. Funderburg finished with nine points, four rebounds and two assists and Stafford came off the bench to add seven points and two steals. Linton finished with four points and a game-high eight rebounds, Ryan McClurg and Trey Bucio each scored five points and Demarcus Moody had two points and five rebounds.
“We had some kids come out tonight and play well for us,” Bremigan said. “Romello played really well. Estevan played well, our bigs played well, Moody played well — our kids just played hard and battled.
“We have to build on this one.”
Alessandro led the Beavers with 27 points, going 10 for 12 from the field, 2 for 2 from 3-point range and 5 for 7 from the free throw line. Back added 11 points, Jackson Hansen had 10 points and Cedric Baldwin had nine points and five rebounds.
Beavercreek was 22 for 45 (48.9 percent) from the field and 18 for 22 (81.8 percent) from the free throw line, while the Trojans were 20 for 50 (40 percent) from the field and 14 for 18 (77.7 percent) from the free throw line. Troy won the battle of the boards 29-22 and forced 11 turnovers while committing only nine — yet simply couldn’t get the big bucket to get over the hump when it needed it.
Troy travels to Piqua Friday night for a GWOC North rivalry game before a beginning a three-game homestand against Springboro, Greenville and Miami East.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.