ULM splits pair of home games


Dallon Lewis, [email protected]

The Warhawks stood firm as ULM endured Troy 75-69 last Thursday in its ninth home win of the season (Jan. 24). The last four meetings in this series have been decided by six points or less.

However, ULM stumbled on its home court Saturday for the first time this season in a 78-72 loss to South Alabama. This ended its home court streak.

Daishon Smith led ULM with 19 points, Travis Munnings scored 15 and Brandon Newman scored 10 off the bench. ULM won its first nine home games before facing the Jaguars with a season-high home crowd of 5,206.

There were four ties and three lead changes in the first half. Troy jumped out to an 8-2 lead on Javan Johnson’s layup with 15:16 left in the opening half. The Warhawks pulled even at 13-13 on back-to-back layups from Smith. Michael Ertel’s left-handed layup, high off the glass over Jordon Varnado, gave ULM its first lead at 20-19 with 6:10 to play.

The Warhawks outscored the Trojans 7-3 over the final three minutes of the first half, and Smith’s 3-pointer from the left corner with less than a second left gave ULM a 31-27 lead at the intermission.

ULM shot 39 percent (12-of-31) from the field in the first half, including just 1-of-11 from behind the 3-point arc. The Warhawks converted Troy’s 10 first-half turnovers into 13 points and outscored the Trojans 6-0 from the free-throw line.

“Troy has a really good team,” ULM head coach Keith Richard said. “That team is just the opposite of ours in a lot of ways. They’re really big on the front line. They’ve got some brute force down low, and they showed it. I was worried about the outcome if we got into a half-    court game against Troy. If it became a grind game, I thought we’d be in trouble because of their size, but to my surprise, our guys fought a good fight in the half-court battle.”

In the game against South Alabama, the Warhawks were 44.8 percent (13-of-29) from the floor and just 27.8 percent (5-of-18) on 3-pointers. Munnings and Newman led ULM in first-half scoring with seven points each.

Newman led the bench brigade with his 3-of-3 shooting, including a 3-pointer in seven minutes. With Munnings and JD Williams limited with two fouls, ULM’s bench outscored South Alabama 12-2 in the opening half.

“The story of the game in the second half was their ability to score in the paint, either off the drive or off a turnover or in the post,” Richard said. “And really, our inability to do it on this end.”

South Alabama exploited ULM inside and outscored the Warhawks 42-22 in the paint. On a day when ULM made 11-of-33 3-pointers and shot 41 percent (23-of-56) from the floor, it was too much to overcome. 

“It was still a tie game with a couple of minutes to go,” Richard said. “Lo and behold, they scored inside or got fouled and we missed a couple of 3s. That’s it. While the 3-ball is nice and we’ve shot it well at times this season, I think our inability in this particular game to defend the two and to score the two was the difference in the game.”

The Warhawks are now 11-8 on the season and 4-3 in the Sun Belt conference. ULM will travel to Carolina for a 6 p.m. tip-off on Jan. 31 for a contest with Coastal Carolina.