Maestri Collects Win No. 500 as Troy Advances
2013 Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Championship – No. 10 Troy 81, No. 7 Florida Atlantic 79 (OT)
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – After struggling for the first 39 minutes, Emil Jones took over at the end of regulation and into overtime to give Troy (12-20, 6-14) a come-from-behind 81-79 win over Florida Atlantic (13-19, 9-11) in the first round of the Sun Belt Championships
on Friday night. The win moves Troy onto the quarterfinals to face Arkansas State and marks the 500th victory in Don Maestri's illustrious career.
“It was a great team win,” Maestri said. “We've been playing in so many heartbreak hotel games it's not even funny. At no time in my career have lost we lost in the last 30 or 40 seconds as much as we have this year. So to see this group of guys win this
and have a chance to advance in the tournament was very meaningful to our whole program”
Jones took over in overtime, scoring Troy's first eight points in the extra period. Troy got up quick and never relinquished the lead, with some strong defense by the entire squad.
Troy held a one-point advantage with under a minute to play, but fouled FAU's Stefan Moody with 30 seconds left. Moody hit the first to tie the game but missed the second, leading to a Kelvin Penn tip-in to give the Owls a two-point lead. Jones took a hard
drive to the basket on the following possession, drawing the foul, and hit both his shots to force overtime.
Jones finished the game with 18 points and seven boards. Tevin Calhoun scored 12 points, including some crucial buckets early, while Ray Chambers went for 15 points and seven rebounds. Moody led the Owls with 29 points, while Pablo Bertone scored 20.
Troy shot 46 percent from the field (29-of-63), including 29.4 percent (5-of-17) from range. The Owls were 30-of-57 from the field (52.6 %) and 4-of-13 from deep (30.8 %). Rebounds were even on the night at 33 apiece.
The Owls got out to a hot start in the second half, erasing the six-point halftime Trojan lead. Troy stayed close, never trailing by more than six points, before Jeff Mullahey hit a huge 3-pointer with under five minutes to play to tie the game up at 62.
The win gives Maestri 500 for his career, becoming the 23rd active head coach in Division I to reach that milestone. He is also just the sixth active head coach to win at least 500 games at one school.
“With the amount of games we've lost in the last 35 seconds, getting 500 is more about just getting a victory tonight for these kids,” said Maestri. “To see their faces after those games and then to see them after this one tonight is what it's about.”
Teamwork was the story for the Trojans in the first half, with eight different guys scoring. Troy maintained six-point lead for most of the half, going into the break up 36-30.
“It started off with a lot of guys who haven't contributed as much making big contributions, which was really important,” said Maestri. “We didn't have two or three guys, we had six or seven guys so it was really a team win.”
Troy moves on to face Arkansas State in the quarterfinal on Saturday night at 9 p.m. Troy split the regular season series with the Red Wolves, with each team winning its home game.