By Josh Brown
VANDALIA — Despite Butler’s five first-half 3-pointers, the Troy girls basketball team still only trailed by four at halftime.
A perfect third quarter by the Aviators, though, was the end for the Trojans.
Butler forced seven Troy turnovers — and converted the majority of them into points — while committing none itself in the third quarter, outscoring the Trojans 21-7 and turning what had been a tightly-contested Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division matchup into a 48-26 rout Wednesday night at Butler’s Student Activities Center.
The loss drops the Trojans to 3-2 overall, 1-2 in GWOC American North play, and was the first time this season that Troy didn’t put up a competitive result. It also marked the eighth straight loss to the Aviators (4-2, 3-0 GWOC American North) — the last time Troy defeated Butler was on Jan. 4, 2014.
It was also the third straight game in which the Trojans have been outplayed and outscored in the third quarter.
“In the last three games, against Greenville, we had nine turnovers in the third quarter. Against Sidney, six turnovers in the third. And today, seven turnovers in the third,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “We come out flat. We just don’t come out energized or with that hunger and desire — and that, to me, is coaching. It’s my job to get them ready, to get them fired up.
“Their job is to execute the gameplan, mine is to get them ready to play, and I did not do that at halftime tonight. And we paid for it in the third quarter. We paid for it dearly.”
The Trojans struggled to execute the gameplan against Butler’s shooters in the first two quarters, yet they still kept the game close. Butler scored all nine of its first-quarter points from beyond the arc — including a 3 by Willow Knight at the buzzer — to take a 9-5 lead after one. Troy’s Jordan Short got the bounce on a 3 to open the second and cut the lead to one, but a bucket inside and a 3 by Jacie Dalton widened the gap to 14-8 early in the second.
Troy’s defense kept things close, though, and a free throw and putback by Lauren McGraw and a basket in the paint by Alaura Holycross got Troy to within one again at 14-13. But a Trojan turnover led to another 3 by Knight to make it 17-13, and that’s where things remained at halftime.
Knight hit five of the Aviators’ eight 3s on the night and finished with a game-high 17 points. Abbie Schoenherr hit two 3s and added 12 points, the only two players for either team in double figures in the game.
“They had 17 points at half, and five 3s,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what their 3-point percentage was coming in, but they shot the ball well, and didn’t stop. It’s one of those things where you gameplan to identify their shooters — and we knew who their shooters were — but we didn’t execute that gameplan.
“We left their shooters wide open, and when you leave good shooters open, they’re going to make you pay for it. And that’s what a good team is supposed to do. If we want to become that good team, we have to be able to execute our gameplan. We knew where Butler’s strengths were, and they out-executed us.”
Troy’s strength all season has been in the post, though, with Alaura Holycross and Tia Bass. But foul trouble limited Bass’ time on the floor, and she only finished with three points and seven rebounds, while Holycross led Troy with nine points and eight rebounds.
“We thought we had an advantage in the interior, in the post, and sometimes we took advantage of that,” Johnson said. “But we had way too many turnovers. We’ve got to get better at taking care of the ball, and we’ve got to get better at feeding the post. When we did feed the post, we had good things happen. But that was few and far between.”
Seven of Troy’s turnovers came in the first half, yet it was still a four-point game. But then the Trojans doubled that turnover total with seven more in the third alone, and Butler went on a 12-0 run that took the score from 19-15 Butler to 31-15, and the Aviators coasted from there.
Short added seven points for Troy, while McGraw came off the bench to pitch in five points and six rebounds. Kiyha Adkins had two points and also fought through foul trouble, and though Valena Robinson didn’t score, she added seven rebounds as Troy outrebounded Butler 32-21 in the game.
“Lauren came in, and what an energy boost she is,” Johnson said. “Lauren played hard, she’s aggressive and she gave us a little but of a spark. And I didn’t have any other spark. Alaura still always plays hard, and Valena got a lot of key offensive rebounds and plays with a lot of energy, as well. Since the beginning of the season, she’s done nothing but improve and get more confident.”
Tyree Fletcher had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Aviators, Dalton finished with seven points and Maddie Mitchell and Megan Allen had two points apiece.
Now the Trojans must prepare for reigning GWOC American North champion Tippecanoe, which brings an unbeaten 6-0 record to the Trojan Activities Center on Saturday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.