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January 31, 2014

Warhawks down Red Wolves

MONROE, La. - Tied 33-33 at halftime, the ULM men's basketball program took control early in the second half and closed out a 72-65 victory over Arkansas State on Thursday evening at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

ULM (7-9, 4-4 SBC) had four double-figure scorers including junior Tylor Ongwae who neared a double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds in 40 minutes. Junior Marvin Williams poured in 16 points and grabbed six rebounds.

Freshman Nick Coppola tallied a career-high 12 points and dished out seven assists in 40 minutes. Junior Chinedu Amajoyi also recorded a career-high with 10 points, all of which came from the free throw line where he went 10-for-12. Senior Jayon James registered nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

It was even at halftime when a tip-in and lay-up by Williams put the Warhawks ahead 41-35 early in the second half. ASU (11-8, 4-4 SBC) cut it to a 42-41 game when ULM responded with a 7-0 spurt that included a deep three-pointer by Coppola to go up 49-41 with 13:22 left.

Arkansas State came within two, 51-49, at the 10:06 mark when the Warhawks used another 7-0 run capped off by a dunk by Williams after a nice pass by James with 7:20 to go. ULM had an answer for each of ASU's baskets down the stretch and took its biggest lead of the game at 66-56 with 1:01 remaining.

A three-pointer by ASU's Ed Townsel made it a 70-65 game with 15 seconds remaining, but made free throws by Amajoyi kept the Red Wolves at a distance.

Melvin Johnson III led ASU with 27 points and eight rebounds. He went 6-for-11 from the three-point line. Kirk Van Slyke also reached double-figures with 15 points.

The Red Wolves scored the first five points of the game, but ULM quickly knotted it 8-8 after a back-to-back lay-ins by Williams at the 14:45 mark of the first half. After ASU got the next basket, the Warhawks used a 7-0 run to go up 15-10 with 12:21 left. A fast-break lay-up by Ongwae extended ULM's lead to 23-17, forcing the Red Wolves to call timeout with 8:16 to go.

Still leading 25-22, ASU used a 6-0 run to re-gain the lead as ULM called timeout with 4:06 left. Sophomore Daniel Grieves came in as a spark off the bench and hit back-to-back three-pointers to put the Warhawks back ahead, 28-25. The Red Wolves were able to level it on their last possession of the half, 33-33, on a jumper by Johnson III.

The Warhawks will look to extend their road winning streak to three games on Saturday as they go for the season sweep over UL-Lafayette at 7:15 p.m. at the Cajundome.

- Freshman Nick Coppola tied the school record for consecutive 40 minute games with five, set by Maurice Bell in 1999-2000. He also notched his fourth double-figure scoring game of the season by scoring a career-high 12 points and hit a career-high four field goals

- Junior Tylor Ongwae has led the team in scoring in all eight league games with double-figures. He has scored double-digits in 14 of 16 games this season

- ULM outscored Arkansas State 40-10 in the paint, its biggest advantage in that category this season. The Warhawks also held a 22-8 edge in points off the bench and 17-6 in points off turnovers

- The Warhawks held a 33-29 advantage on the boards and 14-7 disparity in turnovers. Its +7 turnover margin is the largest in a game this season

- ULM improved to 6-1 when scoring at least 20 points off the bench and 5-1 when tied or leading at half time this season

- Junior Marvin Williams registered his fifth double-figure scoring game of the season and tied a career-high with eight made field goals

- Junior Chinedu Amajoyi became the first ULM student-athlete this season to make 10 free throws in a single game en route to his career-high 10 points. 29 minutes and five rebounds matched career-highs

- Senior Jayon James equaled his career-high with three blocks and played a season-high 39 minutes. He led the team in assists for the 10th time on the year

- The Warhawks are now 17-8 all-time against Arkansas State at home and 388-167 all-time at Fant-Ewing Coliseum

- ULM has a .500 record in conference play after eight games for the first time since 2006-07 when it went on to win the SBC West Division title

- With 10 regular season games still remaining, ULM has already surpassed its win total by three games from last season and has topped its win total in conference play. ULM was 4-23 overall and 3-17 in SBC play last year

Quoting ULM head coach Keith Richard
Opening Statement:
"It was) a very good win for our team against a quality team in our league, quality coached, all the above. That's a good win for us."

On outscoring Arkansas State 40-10 in the paint:
"No question that was the ballgame for us. We were obviously concerned about their ability to score in the paint with two post players with good hands. I thought we defended them really well in the paint; really well. And then on our end, we got the ball in the basket. Marvin Williams had a big game around the hole. I think Jayon (James) played well. They just scored at the rim and went to the free throw line a bunch of times. That's what you have to do to win against a good team."

On the play of the offense:
"We talked about it at halftime. We had outscored them 24-4 in the paint and we wanted to again. So we talked about scoring the ball at the rim, whether it was people at the post or penetrating the zone or driving the lane in general or getting fouled. All those types of things that our players did an excellent job of tonight."

On the play of Nick Coppola:
"Something happened in that game that really forced Nick to become an offensive player. Daniel Grieves hitting those threes in the first half off the pick-and-roll, they were pick-and-popping him and also pick-and-popping Jayon, and they weren't stopping it, so they had to switch it. That means Nick's now got a post player on him and he has to be able to take him off the dribble. It's like a lot of teams do to us. It was nice to be able to kind of have it rolling against someone else tonight."

On the play of Chinedu Amajoyi:
"What can you say about a player like him who is just quietly a great teammate? He isn't called upon often, but we had him start tonight and that's the kind of attitude I want from this team."

On the play of R.J. McCray:
"We knew going into the game that they might come after our guards and we needed a guard to be able to put to ball on the ground, so we called upon R.J. and told him that he would need to take Amos (Olatayo)'s place in this game and put the ball on the ground and defend their guards and R.J. did a great job. I know he didn't play in the last four games, but once again being ready to have your name called is key. If our team can continue to do that, then we can be really be competitive."

On ending the homestand with a win:
"It was three tough games but all of these games are tough for us because we're trying to step out of the cellar. We're trying to get our head above water and move this program forward and so every game is a big game; whether at home or away, just every one of them. This is a really nice win for us."



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