Bahamian collegiate senior Travis Munnings and the number seven seeded University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) Warhawks have advanced to the second round of the Sun Belt Conference Championship after defeating the number 10 seeded Appalachian State University Mountaineers, 89-80, at the Fant-Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, Louisiana on Tuesday.
In the second round, Munnings and the Warhawks will face the number six seeded Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. Coastal Carolina swept the regular-season series against ULM, 2-0, with their latest being a 97-91 victory in Monroe two weeks ago to spoil Senior Day for Munnings. Munnings finished with 23 points, including five three-pointers in that game for the Warhawks.
Against the Mountaineers, Munnings played all 40 minutes and scored 21 points to go along with 12 rebounds to notch his fifth double-double of the season. The 6’6” forward also finished with three steals, four assists and zero turnovers.
Warhawks’ Head Coach Keith Richard spoke highly of the Grand Bahama native. He said: “Travis Munnings has played his best basketball of the season over the last three weeks. He has settled into his role on this team, and he’s done a great job on both ends of the floor. He’s shooting the ball with confidence, especially from the three-point line, and he’s done a great job on the backboard.”
The Warhawks sent an early message to the Mountaineers in the first round-game as they quickly jumped out to a 13-2 lead at the start the game. Michael Ertel connected on a three-pointer with 15:12 to go to end the run.
Munnings got significant help from his teammates as Ertel, Daishon Smith and JD Williams scored 16 points each.
The Warhawks’ Brandon Newman made a lay-up with 9:33 remaining in the half to give them their largest lead of the game, 22-8. The Warhawks led for the entire first half. The Mountaineers went on a 14-9 scoring run to end the half but the Warhawks still took a 42-36 at the break.
In the first half, Munnings and the Warhawks shot 43.8 percent from the field, including six three-pointers. They also out rebounded their opponents 18-15.
In the second half, Munnings connected on one of his five three-pointers with 18:08 left to put his team ahead 50-39.
However, the Mountaineers came all the way back. Hunter Seacat made a lay-up with 13:09 remaining to give the Mountaineers their first lead of the game, 58-57.
On the next possession, Munnings made a jumper to regain the lead for the Warhawks. The game went back and forth until Smith broke a 66-66 tie as he hit a shot from beyond the arc to give the Warhawks a 69-66 lead. They never looked back after that. The Warhawks went ahead by as much as 12, before settling for the 89-80 win.
Coach Richard said it is always a war when they play the Mountaineers.
Munnings and the Warhawks shot a blistering 50 percent from the field and they out rebounded their opponents, 31-26. They had 14 second chance points compared to eight for the Mountaineers.
Coming into this game, Munnings averaged 14.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and shot 36 percent from the field on the season.
The Warhawks will play the Chanticleers tonight. The game will get underway at 8:30 p.m. and will be featured on the ESPN Network. The winner of this match-up will play the number three seeded Georgia Southern Eagles tomorrow night at 7:30.