Shooting Woes Spoil Opener for Trojans
UPLAND, Ind. – One of the worst team shooting performances in the Josh Andrews’ era was too much to overcome for Taylor in its season-opener, as the Trojans made only one of their first 21 three-point attempts and suffered a 66-64 loss at the horn to Northwestern Ohio.
Despite the struggle to find its range, Taylor led throughout much of the contest, building a 10-point second-half lead before the misses finally caught up to the Trojans and opened the door for the UNOH (1-0) comeback.
Taylor went just one-of-10 from deep in the opening stanza and turned the ball over nine times but limited the Racers to 31.3-percents shooting, held a 20-10 scoring cushion in the paint and posted a 14-rebound advantage en route to a 35-26 lead at the break.
While the shooting drought continued into the second half, the other trends did not, as UNOH heated up to shoot 58.3 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes and TU dipped to a 28.9-percent rate from the floor.
TU opened the final period two-of-12 from the field and saw its lead trimmed to 39-37 by the 14:59 marker, after a four-of-five start for Northwestern Ohio.
A pair of buckets from CJ Penha helped Taylor push the spread back to 49-41, but UNOH scored the game’s next 11 points and eventually opened a 60-54 edge with 2:40 left in the contest.
Taylor finally broke through from the perimeter, snapping a string of 16-straight misses from beyond the arc when Mason Degenkolb banked in a contested trey 15 seconds later and then hit a clean look on TU’s next possession to knot the score at 60-60 with 1:47 to play.
Degenkolb continued his string of eight-straight points in the game by ripping down a defensive rebound on the ensuing UNOH possession and draining a pair of free throws for a 62-60 TU lead.
After a pair of Racer buckets put TU back in a two-point deficit, Degenkolb drilled a riser in the lane to bring Taylor even with 15 second to play but UNOH had the last say, hitting a contested baseline jumper as time expired to seal the win.
Taylor closed the affair three-of-23 from deep for a 13.0-percent rate and only shot 33.8 percent overall for the game. The three triples marked TU’s lowest since hitting only one on January 6, 2015, while the 13.0-percent clip was TU’s worst since the 2014-2015 opener.
The Trojans performed well in other areas, winning the battle on the glass, 51-38, with 19 offensive caroms and forcing 16 turnovers. TU also hoisted 21 more field goal attempts in the loss but could not capitalize on the extra chances.
Degenkolb ended as the only player in double figures for Taylor with a game-high 22 points, after scoring the final 10 of the night for the Trojans. The junior guard climbed to within seven points of becoming the 41st player in TU history to reach 1,000-career points.
Jake Heggeland also moved closer to that 1,000-point mark, netting nine points to go with eight rebounds and one block. The senior forward now needs 33 points to reach 1,000 for his career.
Jason Hubbard impressed in his collegiate debut for TU, finishing with eight points, seven boards and one steal, while Emmanuel Boateng added six rebounds and two blocks.
Taylor (0-1) will return to action on Friday and Saturday in the Cornerstone Classic, taking on No. 7 Cornerstone (1-1) on Friday at 8:00 pm and No. 5 Indiana Tech (0-2) on Saturday at 3:00 pm.