LAKE CHARLES — The McNeese Cowboys held off Southland Conference preseason favorite Southeastern Louisiana 74-65 on Saturday at the Legacy Center.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
McNeese’s Shahada Wells got things started for the Cowboys with a three-pointer and then Antavion Collum followed that up with a jumper in the lane. McNeese started off the game on a 12-2 run.
After a timeout at the 16:06 mark, McNeese’s Javohn Garcia grabbed a rebound and then quickly drained a three-pointer. CJ Felder scored underneath the basket on the Cowboys next possession and then after yet another miss by SLU, Garcia hit another three pointer.
SLU cut into the lead and made it a 10-point game with under nine minutes left in the half. Collum responded with a jumper to push back to a dozen points, and Wells hit a step-back two-pointer.
SLU made it a 10-point deficit but then Collum got a rebound, goats the defender into fouling him while shooting. Collum made the bucket but missed the free throw. With less than five minutes to go before half, McNeese led 37-25.
McNeese maintained its double-digit lead and at the break held a 44-30 advantage over SLU.
The start of the second half was bogged down with a plethora of foul calls on both teams, as a total of 15 fouls were called in the first 10 minutes of play. There were a total of 15 called in the entire first half.
SLU managed to cut the lead down to single digits and with 10:03 left in the second half, the Lions trailed by only six points. A few moments later, Alec Woodard hit a three-pointer to make it a two-point game.
McNeese pushed its lead back up to five with a three-pointer by Garcia. After a pair of free throws by SLU made it a three-point game, Wells scored in the lane and made his ensuing free throw. With 5:35 to go, the Cowboys led 61-55.
McNeese managed to keep SLU at bay the rest of the way to close out their third straight conference victory.
BIG NUMBER: 63
McNeese was on fire in the first half in Saturday’s victory as the Cowboys shot 63 percent in the first 20 minutes. The hot shooting cooled off in the second half but McNeese still ended the game shooting 48.1 percent from the field.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: JAVOHN GARCIA & SHAHADA WELLS
Garcia paced McNeese in the first half scoring 13 of his 22 points in the first half, including making three-of-four from three-point range in the first half. Wells meanwhile made big buckets late in the game and ended the night with 20 points and 7 assists.
UP NEXT: McNeese (14-2, 3-0 SLC) hosts Lamar on Monday at the Legacy Center. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.