By Brittni Carmack
The Trojans 8-19 (3-8) lost an exhibition game to Div. I opponent, Belmont, 96-45 at the Curb Event Center on Tuesday.
The loss won’t hurt the Trojans, who have recently secured their spot in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) post-season tournament set to begin later next week.
The exhibition contest originally was scheduled as a November game, but was moved back because Belmont elected to play the University of Florida on ESPN instead.
“Belmont was a pay to play game, they saw we had space in our schedule and invited us out to play against their team and even paid us a small amount to play,” said Mark Elliott, athletic director.
Pay to play games primarily occur in basketball and serve as fundraisers for both schools involved.
Coaches consider many different options when scheduling exhibition games. The Trojans like to target one smaller Div. I school as well as a larger Div. I school in order to maximize profits.
“Belmont paid our team $4,500 to come out and play this game,” said Elliott. “It helped us fill up our exhibition schedule, so we agreed.”
“Playing against a Div. I opponent always helps in showing us situations that we may not see against teams we are playing. It is always a great opportunity because we have an opportunity to play people in different positions that we normally would not get to do. It is kind of a trial and error game, it would have helped us more if we would have been able to play this type of game earlier in the season,” said Sam Harris, head coach.
The Trojans scored the opening basket and led 3-1 with 18:30 in the first half and that was the last time they would lead.
Belmont went on a 24-3 run to led 26-5 with 10:52 remaining in the first half.
The Trojans went into the second half with a 52-24 point deficit.
Belmont, who has already won the Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship, outscored the Trojans 44-21 in the second half.
“We tried to use tonight to look at a couple of players that haven’t had as much opportunity to play this year, but we will need them sharp the (G-MAC) tournament next week.” said Harris.
Freshmen, Devin Whitfield was the team’s leading scorer with 16 points. Senior, Percy Blade added seven points and grabbed five rebounds.
“Tonight does not count on our season record. Devin Whitfield didn’t attack the rim like we need him to do heading into the tournament,” said Harris.
The Trojans are back in action Saturday, Feb. 25 when they face G-MAC leading Kentucky Wesleyan College at 4 p.m. in the Trojan Fieldhouse.