The points were piling up for Schenectady when Troy coach Rich Hurley threw a changeup and directed his Flying Horses to play a defense they had yet to use in a game.
“We were a 2-3 zone team last year, but this year, we’ve gone mostly man-to-man,” Hurley said. “We put our veteran group in there, the guys who played it last year, and that changed the momentum of the game. The second quarter was big.”
Troy closed the second quarter with an 18-1 run to wrestle the lead away from Schenectady, added to its advantage in the third and held off the Patriots in a contest matching Big 10 contenders, 52-39, Friday night at the Pat Riley Sports Center.
Javion Ogunyemi scored 25 points for Troy, eight coming in the second period, when his team built a 30-21 lead. The 6-foot-9 Siena College-bound center added five more in a 7-0 third-quarter push that made it 37-21.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Hurley said after his Flying Horses dealt the Pats their first loss of the season. “We haven’t had a signature game. Schenectady plays so hard, and we had to work. We turned things around in the second quarter, and we found a way.”
With Troy going man-to-man, the Patriots found each other time and again in the opening quarter as Schenectady (3-1, 3-1) raced to an 18-10 advantage. Zach Radz hit a jumper for Troy (4-1, 4-1) to close the quarter, Darius Macon scored down low for Schenectady early in the second period, and the Pats managed just a single free throw the rest of the half.
“We got out in transition and made good passes and good shots. We got after it,” said Schenectady coach Eric Loudis. “We played very, very well in the first quarter. Then they decided to flip a switch and be something they weren’t.”
“We tried to surprise them,” said 6-7 Troy senior forward Jarrell Reid. “We switched it up, and it worked.
“We’ve practiced the 2-3 zone, but that’s the first time we used it in a game.”
Reid played a large role in the outcome with nine points and 16 rebounds, with his defensive work that included three blocks, and with his solid screens that freed Ogunyemi for numerous inside baskets.
“The last game I played, I didn’t play that good,” said Reid. “I wanted to show people I could play.”
“Reid hustled his butt off. He was their garbage man,” said Loudis. “He attacked the rim and made space for Javion.”
Reid kept Troy close in the first quarter with three layups before impacting the rest of the game with his other contributions.
“He did his job tonight. He was screening and rebounding. He was a monster tonight,” Hurley said. “When Jarrell plays well, we have a chance to beat anyone. He’s the hidden gem.”
Reid, Ogunyemi, Isiah Dobere and Dyaire Holt were the lettermen Hurley called on the hold Troy’s 2-3 zone together as the game swayed in the direction of the reigning Big 10 champions.
“We haven’t played a lot of zone. We might have caught them off guard,” Hurley said. “The guys played it pretty well, considering we haven’t used it.”
“We didn’t attack. We were passive and they forced a lot of bad shots,” Loudis said of his team’s second-quarter woes. “What were we? One-for-16? I almost thought about using every time out in that quarter.”
Dobere started Troy’s second-quarter comeback with a three-pointer, and Radz nailed a three to give the Flying Horses the lead for good at 22-21. Ogunyemi scored inside before and after that trey, and the center’s two late layups made it 30-21 at the break.
“As bad as the quarter was, we had opportunities,” said Loudis. “In the last few minutes, we got into transition a few times and didn’t finish. We missed three layups. That’s three big baskets we didn’t get.”
Two layups and a free throw by Ogunyemi and Holt’s jumper extended Troy’s lead to 37-21 with 4:05 left in the third. Macon scored on a tip, a drive and a jumper in a quick sequence after that to get the Pats within 10, and in the final quarter, they got as close as seven at 42-35 on a layup by Randall Symes and 44-37 on a slam dunk by Macon.
Macon finished with 16 points for his fourth straight double-digit effort, six rebounds and four blocks. The 6-6 senior center put down a slam and also had a layup after taking a behind-the-back pass from Cody Shafer in Schenectady’s early surge, while Towan Hamlin led the way with five points and Symes added four of his eight.
“We had one good quarter and three terrible quarters, and we only lost by 13,” said Loudis, whose team missed seven foul shots and had 20 turnovers. “This game proved we can compete with anybody when we’re on our ‘A’ game. We didn’t have our ‘A’ game. We didn’t accomplish the game plan.”
Schenectady hosts Big 10 leader Christian Brothers Academy (5-0, 5-0) Tuesday.
Dobere 2-1-6, Holt 1-2-4, Nelson 1-0-2, Ogunyemi 10-5-25, Radz 2-1-6, Reid 4-1-9. Totals: 20-10-52.
Garr 1-0-2, Gooden-Prunty 0-1-1, Hamlin 2-2-6, Macon 8-0-16, Shafer 1-0-2, Stanford 1-2-4, Symes 4-0-8. Totals: 17-5-39.
Troy 12 18 9 13 — 52
Schenectady 18 3 6 12 — 39
Three-point goals: Dobere, Radz.