South Alabama staved off a late ULM comeback attempt to pick up a 77-72 victory on Thursday inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum. The Jaguars shot 59.1 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Warhawks 39-15 for the game, but needed a clutch basket in the final minute to put away a gutsy performance by ULM.
Junior guard Amos Olatayo came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points, including a pair of high-flying dunks for the Warhawks. Junior forward Millaun Brown chipped in a career-best 13 points and junior guard R.J. McCray added 10 points and five assists.
Junior forward Jayon James finished with seven points, six assists and a career-high five steals but had his double-digit rebounding streak snapped at five.
The Warhawks cut the lead to 73-69 with 1:12 to play with a 10-2 run before South Alabama's Dre Conner rebounded his own missed 3-pointer and got the putback to give the Jaguars a comfortable lead in the final minute.
It capped a solid night for South Alabama and junior forward Augustine Rubit, who netted 32 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Jaguars. Rubit finished 11-of-12 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line and had an answer for every ULM run on the night.
Rubit scored nine early points to help South Alabama push out to a 23-6 lead in the first 10 minutes.
ULM answered with an 11-3 run to cut the lead back to single digits and a layup from sophomore forward Trey Lindsey cut the deficit to 31-28 with 1:29 remaining in the first half.
The Jaguars scored the final five points of the half to take a 36-28 advantage into halftime. South Alabama pushed its lead back to 16 at 51-35 with 14:04 to play before ULM chipped away at the lead and had a chance in the final minute.
ULM forced South Alabama into 25 turnovers and scored a season-best 33 points off those turnovers. The Warhawks shot 51.5 percent from the field in the second half and scored a season-high 44 points in the second half.
The Warhawks are back in action Saturday at North Texas for a 7 p.m. tipoff inside the Super Pit.