Injuries, shallow bench led to late-season losses

Cameron Jett, Editor-in-Chief

The Warhawks’ nosedive down the closing stretch of the year finally hit the ground to coincide with the end of their season. 

After a seven-game skid to end the regular season, ULM (11-21; 7-11) was a one-and-done in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in the Pensacola Bay Center. The 10th-seeded Warhawks allowed the seventh-seeded Georgia Southern Eagles (17-5; 9-9) to extend their lead out Thursday in the final stretch into a 66-57 win that signed off on the end of the Warhawks’ 2022-23 campaign. 

ULM had its seventh-worst shooting night from the field and sixth-worst night from beyond the arc in the loss as a result of Eagle pressure on Jamari Blackmon and Tyreke Locure, ULM’s top scorers. They combined for a shooting total of 9-for-32 from the field and 4-for-17 on 3-pointers.

With the season over, we can see what transpired in this losing skid after ULM appeared to wake up in time for conference action.

The Warhawks started surprisingly hot with five wins in their first seven Sun Belt matches, but this depth-defying run eventually ran out of fuel. 

It wasn’t a lack of depth that doomed ULM. Instead, it was injuries that exhausted it. 

Head coach Keith Richard had excitement for his 6-11 transfer portal acquisition, AD Diedhou, but he faced a season-ending injury well before the season began. 

After Nika Metskarishavili suffered the same fate just before ULM began conference play, it cemented that ULM only had two consistent big men down the stretch. 

Seeing no more than seven players touch the court became standard for the conference schedule. 

As solid as the starting five and slim reserves looked at times, teams in the Sun Belt cracked the code on Richard’s squad.

Every team hopes to have a consistent starting five by the midway point of the season. For the reasons mentioned above, Richard’s selection was likely an easy one. 

The constant pressure on these seven players built chemistry that helped them survive and close out games early on. It helped them secure a season sweep over Texas State and fueled the comeback in 2OT at Marshall, but it also made scouting out the Warhawks an easier task. 

As teams caught on, ULM’s game didn’t—or couldn’t—evolve enough to secure wins, which resulted in its downfall.