Troy catches fire, Warhawks struggle as Trojans down ULM, 77-54

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TROY, Ala. – Troy shot a blistering 60 percent from the field in the second half, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range, while limiting ULM to 26 second-half points as the Trojans pulled away for a 77-53 win Saturday afternoon at Trojan Arena.

“They hit a bunch of threes (13) and we knew that they were going to shoot a bunch,” ULM head coach Keith Richard said. “They do every game. They don’t quite shoot this well at the 3-point line, but they did today.”

Thomas Howell was a bright spot for ULM (9-12 overall, 5-3 Sun Belt Conference) on the offensive end, picking up a team-high 14 points on 5-of-7 field-goal attempts and a career-high 3-of-3 from behind the 3-point line. Troy (13-8, 5-3) was led by Aamer Muhammad’s 20 points (5-of-9 3-point field-goal attempts), while Zay Williams added 14 points (5-of-7 field-goal attempts, 3-of-4 3-point field-goal attempts) and seven rebounds.

Troy led 14-10 on a 3-pointer by Jackson Fields with 14:28 left in the first half. ULM then kept the Trojans scoreless for the next 6:42, going on a 15-0 run. Howell hit his second 3-pointer of the day to start the run, while Tyreke Locure gave ULM the lead with a layup. Jamari Blackmon and Devon Hancock connected on back-to-back 3-pointers, while a jumper by Blackmon and a steal and layup for Locure stretched the lead to 11, 25-14, with 8:13 left in the half.

ULM missed its next 11 shots to close the half as Troy went on an 11-2 run. Muhammad swung the momentum with a pair of 3-pointers following a Trojan timeout. Another trey by Muhammad tied the game at 25 with 3:11 to go in the half. A triple by Williams to close the half extended Troy’s lead to four, 31-27.

“The thing that I’m struggling with is we just struggled offensively,” Richard said. “They’re the best defensive team in the league, and it showed. We tried numerous things out there to try and get some offense going. I don’t think we really ever did. It’s a very good defense. They’re very good.”

The Warhawks were able to counter early in the second half. Langston Powell, who played just six minutes while hampered with foul trouble, opened the half with a 3-pointer. Savion Gallion hit a jumper in the lane to tie the game at 32 at the 18:48 mark.

“That may have hurt us a lot with Langston not in there as a safe player,” Richard said. “He’s a ball mover, a no turnover guy. As a cutter, he gets layups, he makes open threes. We looked a little bit discombobulated. That’s what Langston has brought to us being in the starting lineup. We didn’t have it out there today with him in foul trouble.”

Troy responded with a 12-0 run, started by a 3-pointer by Williams, to stretch the lead to 44-32. A trey by Hancock cut the gap to nine, 44-35, but it was as close as ULM would get. The Trojans then scored the next nine points to extend the lead to 18, 53-35, on a 3-point play by Muhammad with 12:45 to go.

Troy led by as much as 31 down the stretch, cruising to the 77-53 win.

Troy shot 53% (25-of-47) from the field, 52% (13-of-25) from 3-point range and 82% (14-of-17) at the free-throw line. The Trojans entered the game shooting just 31% from 3-point range on the season.

ULM shot 32% (17-of-54) from the floor, 41% (9-of-22) from 3-point distance and 71% (10-of-14) from the foul line. Troy outrebounded ULM, 36-27, but had just six offensive rebounds. ULM forced 19 Troy turnovers, while the Warhawks had 16 turnovers.

The Warhawks continue the four-game road swing at 7 p.m. EST/6 p.m. CST Thursday at Marshall.

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