MONROE — Southern entered Louisiana-Monroe’s Fant-Ewing Coliseum with a losing record. But by the end of Thursday night’s game, the Jaguars looked more like an all-star team.
The Jaguars beat ULM 68-39 for their third straight win with some no-look passes, 3-pointer after 3-pointer and a defense that limited the Warhawks to 25 percent shooting.
“Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “That’s what I constantly tell this team. I think we have some athletic guys, and I think defensively we use our athleticism more than offensively.”
Southern (4-5) dictated most of the game, but it did allow ULM (1-5) to creep back midway through the first half after the Jaguars built a six-point lead in the first seven minutes.
The Warhawks strung together a 16-5 run, including seven straight points in the course of a minute and a half to take a 19-14 lead with 8:23 left in the half.
Southern center Madut Bol came off the bench, and his 3-pointer after ULM extended its five-point lead ignited a 15-2 run as the Jaguars rode a 32-21 lead into halftime. Ten of Southern’s 15 points during the run came from senior guard Derick Beltran, who led all players with 26.
“We expect things from him every night,” Banks said. “We have expectations in all these guys and trust in these guys that they can do what they bring to the table for the team, and hopefully that will lead to some wins for us hopefully.”
Southern capitalized on ULM’s 15 turnovers, turning them into 24 points, and got 26 points from its bench. Most of those points came from junior guard Malcolm Miller, who finished with 16 points in 32 minutes.
Miller scored six of the Jaguars’ first eight points after halftime to help the team build its sizable lead.
“I don’t get into who’s starting,” Banks said. “Malcolm plays starters’ minutes, so we expect him to come in a game and play just as talented. Just because he’s not starting the game, his expectation may be bigger than a starter.
“I think right now we’re trying to find our chemistry and where we are now. Right now it’s him coming off the bench, even though he has more minutes than anyone else, but that’s the key.”