MONROE, La. -- 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.
Postgame Quotes from ULM Head Coach Keith Richard
On Keeping Things Close in 2nd Half:
"First of all, I thought that we played hard in the second half to make a game of it. I don't like being down that far to have to do that, but I'm certainly proud of our players' effort in that respect. It was going to be hard for us to win that game with South Alabama shooting 59 percent from the field. I thought they really out-muscled us. They outplayed us physically in terms of scoring the ball. We had a hard time stopping them. We did cause 25 turnovers with some full-court and half-court defense, but at the end of the day, South Alabama was shooting layups or close shots or going to the free-throw line. They're stronger, longer and more athletic. It was hard on us, but we weren't going to win that game giving up 77 points and allowing them to shoot 59 percent from the floor even though we gave a valiant effort at the end."
On the play of Amos Olatayo
"We need Amos to play for us and be 100 percent so that we can be the best we can be, whatever that is. He's our best athlete, and he's a great athlete. We need him out there making plays for us."