Last Modified: Friday, February 15, 2013 6:11 PM
It’s a potential make-or-break Saturday for McNeese State and Lamar in both men’s and women’s basketball.
The women will tip off the doubleheader at the Montagne Center at 4 p.m. A win would give the Cowgirls (12-11, 7-5 Southland) one last gasp at grabbing a top-two seed in the Southland tournament.
McNeese could have played the Cardinals (17-6, 9-3) in a showdown for first place if not for last week’s stunning collapse in a 60-59 loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Islanders scored 4 points in the final 4.1 seconds for their first conference win.
“We didn’t show up to play. They did,” said Cowgirls coach Brooks Donald Williams. “I told the girls they had been playing better. It may be hard to focus on that after beating them by 30 (at home), but you have to. Hangover or no hangover from a disappointing loss at Sam Houston, we should have shown up with the effort to beat Corpus, and we did not.”
Things have become jumbled in the league standings, particularly in the hunt for a top-four seed.
The 3- and 4-seeds in the Southland tournament get a bye to the quarterfinals, and the top two automatically reach the semis. McNeese is currently tied for fourth with Nicholls, sitting a game behind Oral Roberts and two back of Lamar and Sam Houston State.
Lamar has already beaten McNeese once this year, a 57-53 decision in Lake Charles on Jan. 19.
“We need to bounce back. We need to give the effort this group is so capable of doing,” Donald Williams said. “(The first time) we didn’t box anybody out. We had no energy on the boards. That was the biggest difference. To me, they got too many putbacks and easy shots under the basket.”
The Cowboys (9-13, 3-9) are hoping to replicate their dominating win over the Cardinals on the same date — or at least the second half of it. McNeese scored 51 points in the second half of its 74-50 win.
Coach Dave Simmons said the Cowboys can’t wait until halftime to come out firing.
“Certain guys who were scoring earlier in the year haven’t been scoring (as of) late,” Simmons said. “We need to get production from those guys as well as a resurgence from the bench. We’ve got to continue to get more consistent play out of our starters.”
Guard Jeremie Mitchell and forward Craig McFerrin have both been quiet lately, each scoring in double figures just one time since beating the Cardinals.
A win would go a long way towards securing McNeese’s spot in the Southland tournament.
With a loss, Lamar (3-21, 1-11) would fall three games behind McNeese in the hunt for the final tournament spot. The Cowboys would also have the tiebreaker over the Cardinals, which essentially gives them a four-game advantage with just six left to play.
“A win puts us in a great spot,” Simmons said. “You win this one, you can start thinking about catching other people.”