TROY, Ala. — Ramell Taylor scored 21 points and Matt Massey added 20 for Southern Utah, but the Thunderbirds weren't able to overcome a balanced effort by Troy as they fell to the Trojans 80-72 in men's basketball action Tuesday night.
Justin Wright scored 13 points to lead Troy, including five in the final 1:28 to stifle a T-bird run and help put the game away.
Troy led for most of the second half but never by more than eight points, and SUU got within two after Ray Jones Jr. hit a 3-pointer and Massey scored a layup to make it 67-65 with 3:12 to go. It then appeared Southern Utah might have a chance to tie the game, but Massey and Ray Chambers got tangled up going for a rebound and Massey was whistled for a foul. Chambers hit two free throws to push the Troy lead back to four points, and then Will Weathers stepped in front of a Stevenett pass and drove the length of the floor to push the Trojans' lead to 71-65. with 2:16 to play.
Wright hit a 3-pointer to stake the Trojans to a 74-67 lead with 1:28 to go. Then after a T-bird miss, Wright scored a second-chance basket to push the Troy lead to 76-67 and effectively seal the victory.
"I thought we played 36 minutes of good basketball. But late in the first half and again down the stretch, we didn't get a rebound, we turned the ball over a couple of times, and we gave up a couple of easy baskets. And in a close game, you can't afford to do that," SUU coach Roger Reid said. "I did see some good things, but in the end it wasn't going to happen, we had some breaks go against us and it just wasn't to be I guess."
After leading most of the first half, the Thunderbirds went cold near the end of the period, scoring just four points in the final four minutes, allowing Troy to overcome a 29-28 deficit and take a 36-33 advantage into the break.
Fouls played a big part in the first game, as two SUU starters spent a significant portion of the first period on the bench. Jones had four assists in the half but picked up his second foul at the 9:52 mark and spent the rest of the period on the bench. Damon Heuir sat most of the half after being called with his second foul with 14:23 to go in the period. Both players also picked up fouls early in the second half and wound up spending significant time on the bench, but neither wound up fouling out.
Stevenett finished with 16 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
SUU dipped to 4-6 overall on the season while Troy evened its record at 5-5 in remaining undefeated at home.