Richard earns 300th career win in weekend split

Cameron Jett, Editor-In-Chief

Men’s basketball head coach Keith Richard cemented his 300th career win on Thursday, defeating Georgia Southern (12-9; 5-3) 72- 59 to claim ULM’s third-straight Sun Belt Conference win of the season and remain tied for first place in the conference standings. But juxtaposed against that career milestone stood a 77-53 blowout loss to the Troy Trojans (12-9; 5-3) on Saturday that dropped the Warhawks (9-12; 5-3) down to a three-way tie for second place.

For the Trojans, Saturday’s win marked an important stat. It was their largest margin of victory since they defeated ULM exactly nine” “years prior by 28 points.

Just two days earlier, ULM sat in the driver’s seat against Georgia Southern. With 5:10 left in the second half, ULM held a 20-point lead over the Eagles and a double-digit win just minutes away.

Four players scored at least 10 points for ULM, including a team-best 19 points from junior guard Tyreke Locure on 5-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. One of the key contributions came by way of graduate transfer Victor Bafutto who set a school record with 10 offensive rebounds.

As the 6-10 forward grew fatigued battling in the paint, his coach had his back when some of his shots didn’t connect.

“At halftime, I told the team I don’t want to hear anybody getting on Victor about points around the paint when we throw it to him,” Richard said.

Up to that point, Bafutto snagged 11 boards for the Warhawks. He finished with 15 total rebounds. ULM’s success came from its strong shooting performance. The Warhawks sank 48% of their shots and made 11-of-20 three-pointers.

Against Troy two days later, the fortunate shooting favored the Trojans.

What was a one-score game nearly 12 minutes into the first half soon spiraled away from the Warhawks. Locure’s fast break put ULM up by one but signaled the final make for the next 11 shots for ULM.

Troy took full advantage of the miscues and closed the half on an 11-2 run. ULM came out of the half and quickly tied the game at 32-32 with a three-ball from sophomore guard Savion Gallion. But Troy showed an incredible ability to go on a scoring run and, more importantly, play stellar defense. The Trojans put up 12-straight points late in the second half, and they turned the contest from a close home win into a statement performance.

Richard said one player he was counting on to make an impact was junior guard Langston Powell. But Powell was on the” “court for just six minutes after earning four quick fouls. He said a “no turnovers guy” like Powell would have been a major asset to downing “the best defensive team in the league.”

To get back in the win column, ULM will have to do so against teams where there is no precedent. This week, ULM has two matchups for the first time in school history against first-year Sun Belt members on the road. The Warhawks face Marshall (17-4; 6-2) on Thursday and James Madison (13-8; 4-4) on Saturday to conclude a four-game road trip.”