Jan. 19, 2013
LAKE CHARLES, La. - Lamar University looked to end a 15-year winless drought at McNeese State, and pick up its first Southland Conference men's basketball win of the year, but second half struggles Saturday afternoon led to a 74-50 victory for the host Cowboys.
Lamar's last win at McNeese State was a 73-58 victory on Dec. 20, 1997. A strong finish to the first half gave the Cardinals a 31-23 lead at the break, but they could not overcome nine second half turnovers and poor 5-of-25 shooting from the floor over the final 20 minutes.
The Cowboys (8-8 overall, 2-4 in the Southland) shot just 23.5 percent from the floor in the first half, but had no shooting problems in the second half as they pushed the tempo. McNeese hit 20 of its 31 shot attempts in the second half in breaking a two-game losing streak to the Cardinals.
McNeese State scored several of its second half points in transition as the Cardinals turned it over or settled for jump shots that resulted in long rebounds. The Cowboys outscored the Cardinals 18-0 in the second half off nine Lamar turnovers.
"We had one of the best halves we've played all year and then we didn't even show up in the second half," said LU head coach Pat Knight. "We start shooting jump shots, taking shots off one pass and then we're not going to guard anybody. It was 51-19 in the second half and they just whipped us.
"We get some guys we count on that just don't show up. Then we get some other guys playing, but until we get seven or eight guys to play at once, it's going to be a struggle. Right now for us to win we have to have seven or eight guys show up not three or four."
Kevin Hardy hit a layup with 14:46 to play in the game that capped a 13-3 McNeese run to open the second half and gave the Cowboys a 36-34 lead. Hardy did a little bit of everything for the Cowboys, finishing with 13 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.
Senior guard Donley Minor
, who finished with 10 points and three assists for Lamar (2-16 overall, 0-6 in the Southland), buried one of his two 3-pointers in the game to give Lamar a 37-36 lead. Craig McFerrin scored a layup with 14:09 to play to put the Cowboys up 38-37, and they would not trail again.
It was McFerrin who would hit a layup with just over six minutes to play to give the Cowboys their first double-digit lead of the second half at 52-42. McNeese would not lose that cushion the rest of the way as it outscored the Cardinals 22-8 over the final six minutes.
The Cardinals showed flashes of their collective ability in the first half. After falling behind 10-0 to open the game, Lamar responded with a 17-6 run to grab its first lead of the contest at 17-16. When Minor hit a trey with less than two minutes to play in the first half, the Cardinals' lead reached 10 points at 29-19.
Freshman Donnell Minton and senior Nikko Acosta both put together big first halves for the Cardinals. Minton scored nine first half points and Acosta added six as the duo accounted for nearly half of Lamar's 31 points. Neither player would score in the second half, however.
McFerrin, who led all players with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting, scored the Cowboys last four points of the first half.
McNeese had a slight 43-39 rebound advantage, but the Cardinals outscored the Cowboys 9-6 in second chance points. Lamar would finish the game with an 18-of-54 (33.3 percent) shooting effort from the floor, and managed just nine assists to the Cowboys' 18.
Senior forward Stan Brown just missed out on his fourth career double-double as he registered 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Amos Wilson added seven boards, but was just 1-of-5 from the floor on his way to four points.
Redshirt freshman Rhon Mitchell, who came into the game averaging a team-best 10.5 points per game for the Cards, managed just two points on a pair of free throws as he was 0-of-4 from the floor.
McNeese got nine points and five boards from Ledrick Eackles off the bench as it outscored Lamar 34-15 in bench points. Austin Lewis led all players with 10 rebounds and three blocked shots and Desharick Guidry added eight points and nine boards.
Lamar will next play Thursday evening at Oral Roberts. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPN3.