TROY, Ala. -- The Georgia Southwestern State University men's basketball team opened its 2017-18 season with an 88-87 upset win over NCAA Division I member Troy University in overtime on Wednesday evening at Trojan Arena. R.J. Sessions carved up Troy for a game-high 30 points to lead the Hurricanes past the reigning Sun Belt Conference Tournament champions.
Troy came out of the gates firing as Kevin Barker knocked down his first two attempts from beyond the arc to give the Trojans an early 6-2 lead. GSW kept the deficit at four over the opening seven minutes.
Sessions accounted for a string of nine consecutive GSW points behind a trio of 3-point buckets to push the Hurricanes to their first lead of the evening, 17-16, with 10:35 left in the first half.
Trailing by three points, 25-22, it was Dajion Macklien's turn to go on a run for GSW. Macklien drained back-to-back 3-pointers and followed with a layup to put the Hurricanes up by five with 4:55 remaining in the half.
GSW closed out the period on an 11-2 run, capped by a tip-in at the buzzer by Hasaan Buggs, to take a 44-34 lead into the halftime break.
Buggs accounted for the Hurricanes first basket of the second half as well, to match their largest lead of the game.
From there, the Trojans, a 2017 NCAA Division I National Tournament qualifier, began its march back. An 8-0 run pulled Troy within a basket with 15:53 remaining and Wesley Person put the home team back on top 2 1/2 minutes later with a layup, 51-50.
After the teams exchanged the lead, GSW managed to push its advantage back up to six points when Buggs made a layup to put the Hurricanes ahead, 60-54, with 7:38 on the clock and Macklien added a basket at the 5:45 mark to extend it to eight points, but Troy had one last run left.
Shawn Hopkins drained a 3-pointer to tie the game for Troy at 66-66 with 2:05 remaining.
Quenten Taylor calmly sank a pair of free throws with 16 seconds to go to put GSW ahead by three, 73-70, but following a timeout, Person nailed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to force overtime.
Sessions and Person exchanged 3-pointers to open the extra frame and Devin Watson gave GSW a push with his shot from beyond the arc to go ahead, 83-80.
Troy worked the score back to even and Person made one of two free throws with 10 seconds to go to give the Trojans an 87-86 lead.
Despite having 10 newcomers on the roster, it was Watson, one of three returning players and the lone returning starter, who delivered the game-winner on a drive down the left side of the lane. He pulled up waited for two defenders to jump over the top and proceeded to softly lay it off the glass with 1.3 seconds on the clock. Troy's long inbound pass was off the mark and GSW pulled off the upset.
The Hurricanes outrebounded Troy, 39-35, and had four more steals, 9-5, in addition to leading the Trojans in every shooting category.
Sessions drained 8 of 14 from beyond the arc and 10 of 17 shots overall en route to his 30-point evening. Buggs finished with 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds to record a double-double. Macklien made 6 of 7 from the floor, including 2 of 3 from long range, to add 17 points off the bench. Andre Statam chipped in 11 points and Taylor scored 10.
Troy returns four starters from last year and was led by Person's 30 points. Baker added 15 and Hopkins grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Up Next: GSW plays its second of three exhibition games on Monday with a trip to Middle Georgia State University for a 7 p.m. contest.