Troy, Ala. — Troy came into its match-up against Western Kentucky University Saturday leading the Sun Belt Conference with better than 11 three-pointers per game. Led by a record-setting performance from Tyrone Brazelton, the Hilltoppers gave the Trojans a dose of their own medicine to pick up a win in their league opener.
Brazelton hit nine three-pointers en route to a career-best 29 points, and Courtney Lee scored the Toppers’ last eight in the final two minutes as they defeated Troy 94-90 at Trojan Arena. WKU also matched the school record with 16 three-point field goals overall, with Ty Rogers adding a season-best four.
“Maybe someone else would have made those threes or we would have gotten baskets another way, but the bottom line is Tyrone made an awful lot of shots in the first half,” Topper head coach Darrin Horn stated. “Nothing was forced, he was taking good shots — I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Although WKU (9-4, 1-0 Sun Belt) was ahead by as many as 13 points midway through the second half, the Trojans (6-6, 0-2 SBC) rallied behind O’Darien Bassett, who led all scorers with 36 points. His layup with 1:52 remaining tied the contest 86-86, and after a layup from Lee six seconds later he knotted the game again with a short jumper with 58 seconds to go.
Lee answered on the other end with another jump shot in the lane to put the Toppers up for good, and he added four free throws in the last 17 seconds to seal the outcome. He finished with 17 points and five assists in 22 minutes.
A.J. Slaughter added 13 points — including eight in the second half — and Rogers finished with 12. The Hilltoppers shot 50 percent for the game, hit 47.1 percent from long distance and were 10-of-13 at the free-throw line with just one miss over the final 20 minutes.
And, WKU outrebounded Troy 39-34 as Jeremy Evans supplied a season-best 13 boards to lead all players. Boris Siakam and Mike Walker collected seven apiece as well.
Brazelton, who entered the game averaging 12 points per outing, doubled that in the first 20 minutes. He connected on eight threes in the first half, including two in the first 63 seconds as WKU scored the first eight points of the contest. After the Trojans went ahead 34-29 — their only lead of the game — with a 10-0 spurt midway through the period, Brazelton’s back-to-back treys broke a 34-34 tie as the Toppers answered with 14 straight points to build a 43-34 advantage with four-and-a-half minutes left. Brazelton also hit consecutive threes in the final minute-and-a-half as WKU led 56-48 at the break.
As a team, the Hilltoppers sank 14 three-pointers in the opening half while shooting 58.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Rogers added three triples for nine points before the break, while Lee recorded seven points in just 10 minutes.
Bassett collected 11 points in the first half to pace the Trojans, who hit seven threes of their own prior to intermission. He was 12-of-24 from the field overall while making 6-of-11 from beyond the arc as Troy sank 13 treys in the contest. No other Trojan finished in double figures in the scoring column.
Rogers’ final trey of the night gave WKU its largest lead, 78-65, with 11-and-a-half minutes to go. The lead was still in double digits after Evans’ dunk on a pass from Orlando Mendez-Valdez — who paced all players with a season-high eight assists against only one turnover — but Bassett cut the Troy deficit to six at the midway point of the period with a pair of threes 17 seconds apart.
The Trojans made it a two-point game three times before Bassett evened the score with just under two minutes left. He scored 25 of the team’s 42 points after the break.
Troy shot 46.3 percent overall, making 13-of-30 shots from long range.
Jarvis Acker posted nine rebounds to lead the Trojans, while Kenny Ware added six points and six boards off the bench.
Although Troy was charged with only one more turnover than the Hilltoppers, WKU scored 13 more points than the Trojans off miscues.
Troy recovered from its early deficit by making four threes in a two-minute span, and when Michael Vogler converted a three-point play at 14:19 the Trojans trailed by just one, 16-15. Bassett tied the score at 18 17 seconds later, but they would not gain the lead until Justin Jonus connected on a three from the corner with just over nine minutes to go that made the score 32-29.
After Brazelton’s threes during the 14-0 run, Mendez-Valdez and Rogers sank treys within 28 seconds of each other to push the advantage back to double figures, 46-36, with four-and-a-half minutes left.
The Hilltoppers return to action Wednesday when they play host to Middle Tennessee at 7 p.m. (CST) at E.A. Diddle Arena in their Sun Belt home opener.