Little Rock defeats Troy to take lead in Sun Belt

Little Rock Sports
Evan Drexler, Associate Director of Communications

LITTLE ROCK – In a battle for first place in the Sun Belt Conference, the Little Rock women’s basketball team came out on top.

Little Rock (12-6, 6-0) survived a third-quarter run by Troy (12-5, 5-1) and held on late for a 77-74 victory at the Jack Stephens Center on Thursday night, staying undefeated in league play and taking over sole possession of first place in the conference.

Kaitlyn Pratt was Little Rock’s leader on offense with 20 points and added five rebounds. Kyra Collier scored 14 points and was within a breath of a triple-double with nine rebounds and nine assists. Sharde’ Collins scored 16 points, and Ronjonae DeGray was the fourth Little Rock player in double figures with 13 points.

The game was close all the way through the fourth quarter, with neither team holding a lead larger than 6 points. Little Rock got that 6-point lead with 3:44 remaining when Collins drained a 3-pointer. But from there, Little Rock’s offense went cold and Troy scored the next five points to make it a 75-74 game with 1:13 remaining.

Little Rock missed a 3-pointer on its next possession, Troy missed a 3-pointer on its next possession, and Monique Townson followed with two made free throws. Troy had another chance to tie but missed a 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining. After two missed free throws by Pratt, Troy was unable to get off a final shot as Townson deflected a long Troy pass and sealed the win for the home team.

The scoring began in the first half, with Little Rock setting a new season best for points in a half with 42. Little Rock got 16 points from Pratt – 8 away from her career single-game high – and led Troy by 10 points at the break. Troy committed 16 turnovers that led to 14 Little Rock points.

Little Rock began to pull away from Troy toward the end of the second quarter, going on an 11-2 run to close the half and keeping Troy without a point for more than three and a half minutes. Still, Troy stayed in the game due to shooting 44 percent from the floor in the period including a 4-of-7 effort from the 3-point line.

In the the third quarter, though, the visitors from Troy began to catch up as Little Rock got into foul trouble. Troy sank 10 free throws in the quarter while holding Little Rock to a low shooting percentage, and Troy was able to take a lead at 57-56 with 28 seconds left in the quarter as they closed the period on an 11-2 run.

Early in the fourth quarter, neither team seemed to be able to miss as they exchanged baskets for the first five minutes. With Troy leading 67-66, though, Little Rock scored 6 consecutive points on a DeGray layup, a Collins jumper and a Collier layup to make it a 72-67 game and give Little Rock some breathing room.

Townson was a big factor for Little Rock, scoring 8 points, adding five rebounds and dishing out six assists. Sophomore Kira Shepard played her first game of the season as well after tearing her right anterior cruciate ligament in the Sun Belt Championship Game against Troy last year. She had 4 points and a rebound in six minutes.

Little Rock remains at home this weekend, hosting South Alabama at the Jack Stephens Center on Saturday. That game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tipoff.

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