Warhawks take first round win

Dakota Ratley

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The environment was electric. The crowd was large. The shots went in.

Wednesday night was a huge night for Warhawks athletics. ULM played in its first postseason game since 1996. The team did not disappoint, defeated Eastern Michigan, 71-67.

Head basketball coach Keith Richard thanked the fans after the game

“Those players appreciate it, and I’m glad, you know, a lot of people came out and supported them and it made a difference,” he said.

The total attendance for the game was 3,003. While it was not the highest attendance number for the year, it perhaps has never been as loud.

The game was can be seen of a representative of the Warhawks’ season. ULM took control early in the second half. The home team held a lead as big as 16 with 12:55 left in the game.

That lead was dwindled down to a three-point deficit due to a huge 19-0 run by EMU.

The Warhawks then did what they did all year, the team grinded. A jumper here, free throws there and a defensive stop led to the climax of the game.

The climax is a moment that cannot be contested. The moment itself was a contested shot from senior forward Tylor Ongwae. The Warhawks were down one, and a busted play left just three seconds on the shot clock and 1:41 on the game clock. Ongwae received the ball, stepped back, and with a hand in his face—and on his arm—drilled a three pointer to give the Warhawks a two-point lead.

That lead would be short lived. The Eagles would go down the court and score two off of a pair of free throws.

The Warhawks, and Ongwae, responded, however. Ongwae would drain yet another three pointer to put the Warhawks up for good.

In the post-game press conference Ongwae was asked if he felt confident in the shots at the end.

He answered, “Yes.”

A smile broke across coach Richard’s face.

Meanwhile, the student section began to file out of Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

Hamilton Winters, a junior marketing major, packs up his “UL-Warhawks” sign. He’s elated after the win. He credits the connection between the student-athletes and the rest of the student body as the reason the crowd has been so involved.

“Rooting for a team is one thing. Rooting for your friends is completely different,” he said.

The home crowd this year has helped the Warhawks to a 13-3 home record on the year.

Another fan, at least that night, was athletic director Brian Wickstrom. Wickstrom could be seen patrolling the court restlessly and yelling at the refs over questionable foul calls.

He said that the game was big for the university, and the type of attention it brings.

“It was great exposure for our campus and our city,” he said.

The Warhawks travel to face Mercer Monday. Should ULM take another win, the school will have a chance to host another game Wednesday and have another chance to fill Fant.