Brooks Donald-Williams era opens for ULM women’s basketball with exhibition win over Millsaps

ULM Warhawks

MONROE, La. – A 9-1 run to open the fourth quarter handed the ULM women’s basketball team a lead they would not relinquish, as the Warhawks bested Millsaps 64-56 on Monday afternoon at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

“I’m proud of them,” first-year head coach Brooks Donald Williams said. “Millsaps is a tough team. (Millsaps coach) Justin (LeBlanc) does a great job. We knew it would be a really competitive game.”

In the end, the Warhawks took advantage of their size against the Majors, sending the ball inside to junior center Diamond Brooks. Brooks responded with 11 of her game-high 19 points in the final quarter to help ULM erase what was as much as a five-point second-half deficit and turn it into an eight-point win.

“We believe in Diamond,” Williams said. “I’ve watched Diamond since she was in sixth or seventh grade. Diamond’s got some special ability. It’s just a matter of her getting back into rhythm and getting that confidence back. Hopefully today helped that, and I think it did. Diamond has a great touch around the rim. She’s able to use her body to create angles to score. I thought the guards and the posts did a good job of getting the ball to her to create opportunities for her to score. I thought she was really big down the stretch and helped us get the win.”

In addition to Brooks’ play inside, the Warhawks picked up the pace defensively. Millsaps knocked down nine 3-pointers on the game, but the Warhawks limited the Majors to just eight points over an eight-minute stretch in the fourth quarter to take the lead and build it out to as much as nine points at 60-51 on a pair of Amber Thompson free throws with 1:22 to play.

“We made an adjustment,” Williams said. “The kids really did a good job of making that adjustment. I thought it was the difference in the game.”

The Warhawks played short-handed, suiting up just nine players for the game. Most notably, senior point guard Lauren Fitch missed the game due to injury. True freshman Gara Beth Self was a capable fill-in, playing over 39 minutes while scoring 12 points, hauling in five rebounds, dishing out two assists and had no turnovers.

“We’re down, obviously, with some injuries and different things,” Williams said. “Playing without Lauren Fitch, we’re certainly a different team. But for Gara Beth Self to play almost 40 minutes without a turnover as a freshman in a starting point guard role, I felt like we really did some good things with her, putting her in that position.”

Junior Whitney Goins also tallied double figures with 11 points and eight rebounds while knocking down three 3-pointers.

The Warhawks played in front of over 700 students from local schools, ranging from child care centers to high schools, on the team’s annual Education Day.

ULM opens the regular season at 2 p.m. Sunday at Ole Miss. Links to live video, audio and stats are available on the women’s basketball schedule page at ULMWarhawks.com. Follow the Warhawks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at ULM_WBB.

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