By: Mike Hammett/ULM Athletics
MONROE, La. – Whitney Goins keyed a fourth quarter rally for ULM, but the Warhawks fell short to Troy, 72-65, Wednesday night at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
“We’re proud of them,” ULM head coach Brooks Donald Williams said. “We’re proud of their fight. We’re proud of their effort. I thought this was as tough as we’ve played this season. We’ve got to carry it over to the next day in practice. We’ve got to carry it over to South Alabama on Saturday.”
The Warhawks trailed by as much as 12 in the final frame and closed within four points with 2:41 remaining, and again at the 50 second mark, but could draw no closer as the Trojans held on for the win. Goins scored a career-high 19 points, draining five 3-pointers, with four coming in the fourth quarter.
“I’m proud of Whitney for continuing to shoot and continuing to look for her shot,” Williams said. “We need Whitney Goins to continue to shoot the ball for us to be successful.”
Troy led 63-51 with 6:37 remaining. Goins knocked down her third trey of the frame to cut the gap to nine, and then, two possessions later, buried another to bring the Warhawks within six at 63-57 with 5:14 to go. After Troy’s Jasmine Robinson hit a bucket in the paint, Gara Beth Self followed with her own basket from just inside the foul line and Amber Thompson hit a pair of free throws to cut hte gap to four at 65-61 with 2:41 left.
After a pair of Troy free throws, Self scored in the paint again to bring the Warhawks within four at 67-63 with 50 seconds to play. Robinson hit a free throw for Troy, but missed the second. On the rebound, Robinson forced a jump ball with a pair of Warhawks, giving Troy the ball again. Robinson knocked down both free throws to push the lead out to seven at 70-63 and picked up the 72-65 win.
The first quarter was played at a frenetic pace. ULM claimed an early 7-2 lead off of a 3-pointer by Thompson.Troy rallied to take as much as a seven point lead in the quarter on free throws by Japonica James with 2:21 to go in the frame. The Warhawks cut the deficit to four by the end of the quarter on free throws by Kierra Crockett, 23-19.
After Self’s jumper in the lane brought the Warhawks within two at 23-21, Troy extended the lead in the second quarter. A free throw by Winchester pushed the Trojan lead to eight at 31-23 with 5:55 left in the half. ULM responded by scoring the next six points, with buckets from Thompson and Crockett and free throws by Goins, to get within two at 31-29. After a basket by Troy’s Alexus Dye, ULM scored four straight points to tie the game. Diamond Brooks picked up a basket inside, and Goins knocked down a jumper in the lane to tie the game at 33 with 2:09 left in the quarter. After Dye picked up another bucket to regain the lead for Troy, Goins canned her first trey of the night to give ULM a 36-35 halftime lead.
Troy seized the momentum out of the halftime break, scoring the first 10 points and holding the Warhawks scoreless over the first 5:17 of the period to build a 45-36 lead. Again, the Warhawks rallied, pulling within four on a baseline jumper by Maddi Gatte to cut the gap to 46-42. Troy scored the final three points of the quarter, on a layup by Katie Rodgers and free throw by Kayla Robinson, to lead 49-42 to the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Troy pushed the lead to 12 twice, once at 60-48 on free throws by Amber Rivers, and again at 63-51 on a 3-point play by Jasmine Robinson, before the Warhawks started their final rally.
The 72 points is tied for the fourth-fewest points scored by Troy this season. Williams said her team executed well on the defensive end.
“(Assistant coach) Christie Sides has done a great job of preparing our team defensively,” Williams said. “I thought tonight was no different. I thought they came out prepared and ready. I think one thing that was different on the floor tonight was our toughness. The players were locked in. I thought they executed the defensive game plan and schemes really well.”
Williams also like the play of Self in the point guard role against Troy’s pressure defense.
“I thought she handled it extremely well,” Williams said. “I thought she not only handled it, but I thought she attacked it. We got points out of it, and ultimately, they had to get out of it. We executed and were productive out of their pressure. She continues to grow. She’s continuing to blossom in her role. It’s going to be a bright future for her.”
In addition to Goins’ 19 points, Thompson added 14, while Crockett and Self tallied 12 points each. Jasmine Robinson led Troy with 13 points while Rivers tallied 12. The Warhawks hit a season-high seven 3-pointers, with Goins knocking down five and Thompson two.
The Warhawks visit South Alabama on Saturday. Links to live video, audio and stats are available at ULMWarhawks.com.