Late push sends Southern Miss past ULM, 65-60

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MONROE, La. – Southern Miss picked up the go-ahead 3-pointer from DeAndre Pinckney with 2:39 to play and never let ULM tie the game or regain the lead down the stretch, as the Golden Eagles rallied from an early 11-point deficit to defeat ULM, 65-60, Saturday afternoon at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

“They won the last three minutes,” ULM head coach Keith Richard said. “It was a war for the first 37 minutes. We went back and forth. It was tough slugging in there, so to speak. We played our hearts out. We played really good defense at times, and they did, too. It was hard to score in this game for both teams. Somebody’s going to make a play or two in the last two or three minutes. They made them and we didn’t.”

Pinckney led all scorers with 24 points and added 11 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. He went 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Austin Crowley added 21 points and six rebounds for Southern Miss (14-3 overall, 3-1 Sun Belt Conference). Tyreke Locure led ULM (7-10, 3-1) with 21 points, five steals, four rebounds and three assists, while Jamari Blackmon added 17 points, five assists and three rebounds.

Pinckney’s 3-pointer, his fourth of the game, gave USM a 59-56 lead. He added two free throws moments later to stretch the lead to five, 61-56, with 1:53 left. It was part of a stretch where Pinckney scored 10 straight points for USM.

A layup by Locure brought ULM within three, 61-58, with 1:33 to go. However, two more free throws by Pinckney pushed the lead back to five, 63-58. ULM pulled back within three again on a layup by Victor Bafutto with 54 seconds left. Locure came up with a steal on a bad pass on the defensive end and was fouled coming up the floor. He missed the front end of the one-and-one free-throw attempt but picked up the offensive rebound off a deflection. He fired off a 3-pointer with eight seconds left, but it bounced off, with USM securing the rebound and the win, 65-60.

The Warhawks started the game hot, but it would quickly fade. ULM hit seven of its first eight shots. Blackmon knocked down a jumper just outside the lane and Locure buried a 3-pointer for a quick 5-0 advantage. Thomas Howell connected on a trey from the top of the key, and on the inbounds play, Locure forced a steal and picked up a layup for the 10-3 advantage with 17:11 left in the half.

Langston Powell was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws before Blackmon sunk a 3-pointer to push ULM’s lead to 11, 23-12, with 14:24 to go until halftime.

Richard said Locure and Blackmon gave ULM a chance on the offensive end.

“We didn’t get as much inside as we would have liked,” Richard said. “We tried to, it just wasn’t really happening. That put more pressure on them to try and have to score over and over. I think they did an admirable job. It was a tough man’s game. It wasn’t pretty. I thought they made plays when they needed to.”

ULM went cold after that, hitting 4-of-21 from the field down the stretch of the half. Southern Miss slowly caught up to ULM, going on a 10-0 run over the next 7:47, pulling within one on a layup by Crowley. The Warhawks protected the lead for a moment with a layup by Powell and a 3-pointer by Locure to go back up, 28-24, with 5:49 to go in the half.

However, ULM went silent again, going scoreless for the next 5:25 as USM added an 8-0 run to take a 32-28 lead on a trey by Crowley. Blackmon knocked down another 3-pointer with 24 seconds left in the half to bring ULM within one at halftime, 32-31.

Southern Miss stretched the lead to six early in the second half, as Pickney knocked down another 3-pointer and hit a pair of free throws to put the Golden Eagles up 39-33 at the 17:22 mark. ULM used a 6-0 spurt to tie the game as Blackmon converted a layup and Locure hit the first of two free throws, grabbed the rebound off the second, and then hit a 3-pointer from above the top of the key to knot the game at 41 at the 13:27 mark.

Crowley had the quick answer for USM, canning 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to stretch the lead to six again, 47-41, with 12:16 to play.

Trailing 53-47 with 9:45 left, the Warhawks mounted a slow, but steady, 7-0 run to go back in front. Locure connected on another 3-pointer before hitting two free throws to get within one, 53-52. Thomas Howell then finished a layup to give ULM a 54-53 edge with 6:29 remaining. Both teams were scoreless to the 3:11 mark, when Pinckney converted a three-point play to go on top, 56-54. Blackmon’s jumper on the next possession tied the game at 56 with 2:59 remaining.

ULM shot 40% (23-of-58) from the field, 38% (8-of-21) from 3-point range and 6-of-9 from the free-throw line. USM shot 37% (22-of-6) from the field, 33% (9-of-27) from 3-point range and 92% (12-of-13) at the foul line. The Golden Eagles outrebounded ULM, 39-33, and had 17 offensive rebounds. ULM had 13 turnovers while USM had 10.

ULM continues the four-game homestand at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against the Ragin’ Cajuns at Fant-Ewing Coliseum. Thursday’s game marks the 2,000th game in ULM men’s basketball history.

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