Blackmon, Powell shoot Warhawks past A-State, 84-72

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JONESBORO, Ark. – ULM completed a conference-opening weekend road sweep with an 84-72 win Saturday against Arkansas State at First National Bank Arena.

Jamari Blackmon set the tone, scoring the first eight points of the game for ULM on his way to a season-high 25 points, while Langston Powell followed with the next eight points for the Warhawks and finished with a season-high 15 points.

After last year’s 60-59 win by ULM in Jonesboro, it marks the first time the Warhaeks have won back-to-back games in Jonesboro since 1977 and 1978.

“I told them that we got a long way to go, but I did want them to know that it’s a tremendous accomplishment what they just did, going on the road and winning at Texas State and at Arkansas State in a three-day span with the travel and everything,” ULM head coach Keith Richard said. “It was a tremendous effort.”

After shooting 29% from the floor in Thursday’s 57-53 win at Texas State, ULM rebounded to a 54% (31-of-57) clip from the field and shot 57% (12-of-21) from 3-point range, led by Blackmon’s 6-of-8 effort from deep and Powell’s 4-of-5 afternoon from downtown. A-State hit 51% (26-of-51) in the loss and 46% (5-of-11) from 3-point range in the loss.

“Jamari made some big shots in the first half,” Richard said. “Langston hit four out of five threes as well, and played within himself. I thought all the guys that played, played well.

“Jamari made some tough shots today,” Richard continued. “He made some tough threes at times. We needed to keep the ball in Jamari and Tyreke’s hands as much as possible because of their defensive pressure in the half court. We brought our bigs out to see if we could get downhill a little bit with it sometimes. At times, it really worked. We did get downhill and then we were able to kick out for some open shots. In the second half, we got to throw the ball inside more and Victor (Bafutto) got some buckets in there that really helped us.

Blackmon had the first eight points of the afternoon for ULM, hitting a 3-pointer to give the Warhawks an 8-6 lead with 16:25 left in the first half. Powell then followed with the next eight points for the Warhawks, hitting a pair of treys and then a layup off a feed from Victor Bafutto for the 16-10 advantage with 12:36 to go in the half.

A-State answered with an 8-0 run, regaining the lead for the final time on a 3-pointer by Malcolm Farrington, 18-16, with 10:58 left in the half.

ULM responded when Tyreke Locure was fouled on a 3-pointer and hit all three free throws. On the next possession, A-State’s Terrance Ford missed a jumper. Locure secured the rebound on the baseline and went coast-to-coast, making the layup and getting fouled for a traditional three-point play to push the lead to 22-18 with 9:33 left before halftime.

The Warhawks extended the lead back to nine as Powell hit his third 3-pointer of the day to go up 29-20 at the 6:53 mark. After two A-State free throws, Blackmon hit his third trey to push the lead to 10, 32-22. A layup by Gallion and another triple from Blackmon pushed the lead to 13, 37-24, with 5:27 left to halftime.

A-State made another move late in the half, going on a 12-1 run to close within two, 38-36, on Julian Lual’s dunk at the 2:09 mark. But ULM had another response, holding the Red Wolves off the board the rest of the half and mounting a 9-0 run, using Blackmon’s fifth 3-pointer and a jumper on the lane, plus back-to-back jumpers from the top of the key by Howell to close the half with a 47-36 lead at halftime.

Blackmon scored 19 of his 25 points in the first half and Powell had 12 of his 15 points before the break.

The second half belonged to Bafutto and Locure on the offensive end, with Bafutto scoring all 13 of his points after intermission and Locure getting nine of his 15.

Bafutto had back-to-back layups to open the second half as ULM picked up its largest lead at 14, 51-37, with 17:21 left.

A-State had its best push of the second half with an 8-1 run, with all eight A-State points coming from Omar El-Sheikh. A three-point play by El-Sheikh cut the gap to six, 52-46, with 14:17 remaining.

ULM answered on the next possession, as Powell connected on his fourth 3-pointer of the night.

A-State pulled within six again, 61-55, with 8:13 left on free throws by El-Sheikh. But again, ULM responded as Locure had a steal and layup and then hit a 3-pointer to answer another layup by El-Sheikh to extend the Warhawk lead back to nine, 66-57, with 7:16 to go.

ULM extended the lead back into double digits as Bafutto had back-to-back layups to give ULM an 11-point lead, 72-61, with 4:38 left. Howell then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Warhawks a 13-point lead, 75-62, at the 3:31 mark.

A-State pulled within eight again, 75-67, but Blackmon came through with the dagger, knocking down a 3-pointer from the left wing that hit the front of the rim and bounced up and in, as ULM led, 78-67, with 1:54 to play.

Locure and Bafutto joined Blackmon and Powell in double figures for ULM, as Locure had 15 points and Bafutto added 13. Bafutto finished with nine rebounds, leaving him one short of his second consecutive double-double. El-Sheikh led A-State with 18 points, 16 in the second half, and 15 rebounds for his third straight double-double. Terrance Ford had 14 points off the bench, while Lual added 12 and Caleb Fields tallied 11.

ULM opens a four-game homestand at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against Georgia State.

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