Jaguars get first road win of season at Monroe
MONROE, La. - University of South Alabama men's basketball sophomore John Pettway scored a career-best 16 points - 12 in the second half alone - and junior Herb McGee nailed a key 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to clinch a 78-72 victory over ULM Saturday afternoon at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
South Alabama (10-11, 3-5 Sun Belt) put four in double-digit points, including junior Trhae Mitchell who led all players with 23 points. Junior Josh Ajayi added 19 and McGee totaled 12 on four 3-pointers.
A 7-0 run midway through the second half gave the Jaguars the lead (59-55) for the first time since the 15:18 mark of the first half. ULM (11-8, 4-3) tied the game three times in a four-minute span and briefly took the lead with 4:05 left but allowed a jumper from Ajayi on USA's next trip down the floor.
Two free throws from Ajayi with 2:07 on the clock broke a 66-66 deadlock and Mitchell tacked on two more free throws 42 seconds later. After two 3-pointers went begging on the other end, McGee nailed a triple to put the Jags up 73-66, then added four free throws with in the last 11.5 seconds to put the game away.
- Three straight 3-pointers, two from Daishon Smith and one from Michael Ertel gave the Warhawks a 15-8 lead in the early going, and seven more unanswered points later in the half put ULM ahead 24-16
- USA outscored ULM 16-10 the rest of the half and trailed 34-32 at intermission
- The Jags tied the score five times in the first nine minutes of the second period but was unable to take the lead until a steal and dunk from Pettway at the 8:12 mark
- On South Alabama's next possession, Ajayi completed a 3-point play to cap off a 7-0 run and lead 59-55
- After knotting it up three times, two free throws from Smith finally put the Warhawks in the lead but a short jumper from Ajayi and a layup from Mitchell put the Jags back on top
- A 3-point play from Travis Munnings pulled ULM back even at 66-66 with 2:32 left, then Ajayi made a pair of free throws to start a run of seven unanswered points, finished off with McGee's '3'
- The Warhawks went 1 for 5 from the floor the rest of the way, while the Jaguars made 9 of their 10 free-throw attempts to hold off any rally
- Smith paced ULM with 19 points on five 3-pointers, and Munnings totaled 15 and a team-best 8 rebounds
- South Alabama won for the first time this season on the road (1-7) and handed ULM their first home loss (9-1); the Jags were 1-23 in their previous 24 true road games
- USA has had a 20-point scorer in each of its last 13 games, and in 19 of 21 games this season
- The last two Jaguar wins in the series have been in Monroe, but USA is 2-9 in the last 11 games overall and trail 13-12 total
- Mitchell blocked a pair of shots to move into fifth place by himself at South Alabama for a career with 113, one shy of Brandon Davis in fourth
- The Jags shot 59.7 percent in the second half and held the Warhawks to 37.0 percent on the other end
- Mitchell has scored 20 or more a team-best seven times this season
- Pettway's points came on 7-for-9 shooting
- Ajayi converted 6 of 10 from the floor and made all seven free throw attempts, the best single-game free-throw performance by a Jaguar this season
- The Jags won the points on the paint battle 42-22
- McGee has hit double-digit points in each of his last three games; the three-game streak ties his season best set in November
- ULM entered today leading the league in 3-point percentage but was held to 33.3 percent (11-33)
THEY SAID IT
Head Coach Richie Riley
Opening statement: "I'm so proud of our kids with the resiliency they've shown. It's been a hard year; we've lost a lot of close games and played shorthanded because of injuries. For them to come together like they did - not only how they played but how together they were. From one through 10, every manager and coach, everybody was together. I'm more proud of that than any basket or any pass."
On slowing down ULM's offense: "They are extremely talented. When you have Smith, Ertel, Munnings and (J.D.) Williams, we knew we had to do a good job in transition. We talked about that a lot yesterday and zoned them for 40 minutes. We felt like in 1-on-1 matchups we would probably be in trouble. We zoned them, had good activity and we turned it into guarding them in the halfcourt. That was the key to the game."
On Pettway's performance: "He's been playing really well. He shoots a high percentage, is a low-turnover guy and he was a monster today. He had a couple of pick-sixes that changed the momentum of the game and a couple of strong takes in the halfcourt. He's playing at a high level and we've had hopes of him doing that and now he's starting to turn the corner."
South Alabama opens a three-game homestand next Saturday against Troy at 5 p.m.