After a blowout 77-51 home win against the Lions of Texas A&M-Commerce on Monday, the McNeese Cowboys men’s basketball team stayed home in the Legacy Center on Saturday to host Texas A&M Corpus-Christi. It was a slow start for both teams but the Cowboys got their shots to fall at the end of the first and in the second half to defeat the Islanders 74-67 and improve to 21-3 on the season and 10-1 in conference play.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
McNeese won the opening tip but both the Cowboys and Islanders struggled to put the ball in the basket in the first half. Marion Humphrey scored the game’s first bucket after he got the steal off Christian Shumate on the first possession of the game but it was tough to get shots off or in the hoop in the first half.
The Cowboys missed their first six shots in the first four minutes as Shahada Wells was 0-3 during that stretch even after the team was able to get a couple of steals.
Javohn Garcia tied the game at four after a TV timeout with a mid-range jumper, which prompted a 7-0 by McNeese where Mike Saunders Jr. got an and-one layup. The Cowboys were up 9-4 with 13:03 remaining in the first half.
Texas A&M Corpus-Christi tied the game with layups by Dian Wright-Forde and Dayne Prim but then Antavion Collum with a layup of his own and CJ Felder knocked down both of his attempts from the free throw line.
The Islanders made a few free throws, but Felder spun to the basket for the two-hand slam. Humphrey returned the favor with an and-one layup to tie the game at 15 with 6:57 left.
After that shot by Corpus Christi, McNeese went on a 15-4 run before the half and it started with Shumate making his first shot of the game. Wells also watched his first shot go in during the run with a layup and Collum knocked down one from about 10 feet. DJ Richards scored the final four points of the first half for the Cowboys with a pair from the charity stripe and a layup to put his team up by 11 with 63 seconds left.
Humphrey made one more layup four seconds before halftime but McNeese was up 30-21 at the break.
Wells found Cooper who cut to the basket for the easy layup to begin the second half and then Tedrick Washington Jr. made the first three-point shot of the game. That shot inspired a couple of others to score from deep as Garcia knocked down a three in between layups by Stephen Giwa and Garry Clark.
Prim also scored from downtown and was called for a technical when he taunted the McNeese crowd but then Richards made one himself after a layup by Felder and a free throw Richards. Will Wade’s team was up 41-31 at the 16:04 mark.
Shumate got on a roll midway into the second half as he scored five straight points. The first was an and-one layup in transition and then had a bac-door dunk to put the Cowboys up by 15.
A&M Corpus-Christi went on a 7-2 run after Prim made a couple of layups and Owen Dease hit both free throws to make it a 10-point game with 7:53 left.
The Islanders continued to dwindle their deficit with a dunk and layup by Wright-Forde. A free throw by Clark made it a seven-point point game with less than five minutes to go but Collum made a mid-range shot just before the end of the shot clock and then made a three from the top of the key. Shumate had another back-door dunk to give McNeese the 63-51 advantage at the 3:00 mark.
Felder got a put-back dunk off a miss by Rcihards in transition but Garry Clark raced down the court in four seconds to make the layup. Wells then scored four straight with a couple from the stripe and then got the finger roll layup to put the Cowboys up 10 again with 42 seconds to go after another quick layup by Clark.
The Islanders cut it to a six-point game with 12 seconds to go but a free throw by Wells and a missed shot by Wright-Forde secured the 74-67 win over Texas A&M Corpus-Christi as the Cowboys moved up to 21-3 and 10-1 in Southland play.
BIG NUMBER: 90
For as tough as it was for both teams to see the ball through the hoop most of the first half, it was the opposite in the second half. The Cowboys and Islanders combined to score 90 points in the final 20 minutes but it was McNeese’s stretch at the end of the first half that was the difference.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Christian Shumate
Shumate struggled to score early on but elevated his game in the second half as he finished the game with 12 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks, and a steal in McNeese’s 74-67 home win on Saturday to improve the Cowboys’ record to 21-3 and 10-1 in conference play.
UP NEXT: The McNeese Cowboys basketball team will be back on the road when they travel to play the Houston Christian Huskies. Tip-off in the Sharp Gymnasium is set for 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 12th.