Blazers down Warhawks

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - ULM had its best offensive showing of the season but it wasn't enough as UAB powered its way to a 76-69 victory on Thursday evening inside Bartow Arena. The Warhawks (1-7) shot a season-high 50 percent (27-of-54); including 53.6 percent (15-of-28) in the second half to keep the game close.
UAB (6-6) led 71-59 with 2:56 before sophomore Trent Mackey hit a 3-pointer and freshman Kyle Koszuta scored on a lay-in to cut the lead seven with 43 second remaining. UAB's Jordan Swing knocked home a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession as the Blazers moved to 2-0 all-time against the Warhawks.
Mackey led the Warhawks offensively for the second straight game with 17 points, including five 3-pointers. The Tampa, Fla., native has now knocked in 11 3-pointers in the Warhawks' last two games.
Koszuta registered a career-high 15 points and junior Marcelis Hansberry finished with 11 points for the Warhawks. Junior Jayon James added six points, 11 rebounds and a career-best eight assists. It marked the fourth straight game that James has tallied double-digit rebounds.
The difference once again came at the free-throw line as UAB outscored ULM 16-5 in the game. ULM converted just 5 of 13 from the charity stripe.
UAB used runs of 12-0 and 12-1 in the first half to take a 37-31 advantage at the break, despite shooting just 39.4 percent from the field. The Blazers scored the first five points of the second half and led by as many as 15 points before the Warhawks rallied back late in the game.
Rod Rucker paced five UAB players in double figures with 22 points and nine rebounds. Rucker shot 9 of 15 from the field and 4 of 6 from the free-throw line. Preston Purify and Robert Williams each finished with 12 points and Swing and Terence Jones notched 11 points apiece for the Blazers.
ULM returns to Sun Belt Conference action when its hosts Florida Atlantic on Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum.