By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy boys basketball coach Paul Bremigan’s message is a simple one.
“We’ve got goals as a team that we want to accomplish. But we have to do things together,” he said. “It’s important that we don’t stray off in our own direction. We all have to stay on the path together.”
A message like that comes into even sharper focus after a loss like Friday’s.
Undefeated Trotwood began the game on a 15-0 run and held the Trojans without a field goal in the first quarter, and the Rams’ pressure defense gave Troy fits in both full-court and half-court situations all night long in a 68-39 Troy loss in Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division play Friday at the Trojan Activities Center.
The loss was the Trojans’ (2-4, 0-2 GWOC North) third straight, with back-to-back losses at Greenville and Northmont last weekend. Those three teams have a combined record of 13-3, with Trotwood improving to 6-0 and 2-0 in the GWOC North.
“I think Trotwood is very good, and we had some problems scoring early,” Bremigan said. “We missed some easy shots inside and some open jumpers. When we got shots, we just couldn’t get the ball to drop. But we only had eight turnovers at halftime — which, if you told me that before the game, I’d say I’ll take it against them.”
In the first quarter, though, Troy’s six turnovers were all costly.
After scoring to open the game, the Rams added seven more points to their lead off of two turnovers and a pair of Troy misses to force a Trojan timeout with 5:49 left in the quarter. A putback by Torrey Patton after a steal, steal and dunk by Amari Davis and a steal and layup by Patton later, Troy was down 15-0.
“That’s what they’re good at,” Bremigan said of the Rams turning turnovers into points. “I’ll take a 10-second call over a bad pass, because that pass is going to turn into two points the other way.”
A free throw by Austin Funderburg finally got the Trojans on the board at the 2:44 mark, but the only other offense Troy could manage in the rest of the first was two more free throws. Trey Bucio swished a three-quarters-court heave — but a second after the buzzer had sounded, and Trotwood led 21-3.
Funderburg scored the Trojans’ first field goal with 5:44 left before halftime, but the Trojan defense could do little to slow the Rams’ offensive barrage. Davis hit a pair of second-quarter 3s and Patton and Hezikiah Shaw each hit one, extending the Trotwood lead to 41-12 by halftime.
“When you don’t turn the ball over much, it comes down to what kind of shots you’re getting,” Bremigan said. “They’re so athletic that they got a lot of offensive rebounds and made a lot of shots inside that we didn’t.
“Maybe the speed of their game got to us. They want you to rush so that you’re rushing shots. But I don’t think they sped us up that much. We had some open looks, and we passed well. We just had problems defending.”
The Rams’ lead grew to as much as 37 at 58-21 late in the third quarter before a bucket inside by Troy’s Mechia Linton cut it to 58-23 entering the fourth. Troy got to within 30 twice, once at 66-37 after an Austin Anders 3, and then again on a basket by Funderburg to close the game.
Linton led the Trojans with 12 points and eight rebounds, with 10 of his points coming in the second half. Funderburg added seven points, Romello Yaqub had six, Austin Persinger and Anders had four apiece and Ryan McClurg had three.
Myles Belyeu led all scorers with 16 points for the Rams, who had three players in double digits. Davis added 13 points and Patton had 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Troy is right back in action Saturday night, hosting Springfield Shawnee.
“We can’t cry. The sun is going to come up tomorrow,” Bremigan said. “Were going to get up in the morning and get ready for Shawnee.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.