Last Modified: Friday, January 04, 2013 7:48 PM
The rough start to McNeese State’s basketball season is not poised to get any easier tonight.
Both the Cowboys and Cowgirls have had all of one day to recover from losing their conference openers at Northwestern State before facing comparably stern tests today at Stephen F. Austin.
The Cowgirls (5-7, 0-1 Southland) tip off at 4 p.m. with the Ladyjacks (5-7, 0-1) in a rematch of last year’s conference championship game, which McNeese won.
That game will be followed by the Cowboys (6-5, 0-1) and Lumberjacks (11-1, 2-0). Cowboys head coach Dave Simmons has never beaten SFA at Johnson Coliseum.
That gorilla isn’t going to be any easier for Simmons to shed from his back today.
“We’ve never really shot the ball very well here,” Simmons said. “That’s been the biggest difference.”
SFA coach Danny Kaspar is on the cusp of his 450th career win. The ’Jacks won at Oklahoma last month, and their lone loss was at Texas A&M.
SFA enters the game on the heels of a 79-43 drubbing of Lamar in which it forced 29 turnovers. It also posted a conference victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The Lumberjacks enter the game with the nation’s best scoring defense, allowing an average of 49 points per game with their slow-down pace.
“When Danny’s at home, when you get to play at his pace; he gets ahead and they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Simmons said. “They don’t beat themselves. We’ve got to beat them.”
The Cowboys are trying to bounce back from a lackluster 78-63 loss at Northwestern State in their conference opener.
“We got a chance to look at the tape. It confirmed that we looked like a team that’s been off,” Simmons said. “That was the biggest thing. A lot of things are correctable.”
On the women’s side of the doubleheader, both of last year’s title contestants are trying to avoid falling to an 0-2 start in conference.
“It’ll be a great battle. Stephen F. has a lot of kids back from that last game and we don’t,” said Cowgirls coach Brooks Donald Williams. “The young kids that weren’t a part of that game, they don’t understand yet the effort we’re going to get from our opponents. That is something we tried to address (after Thursday’s loss at Northwestern State). We’re going to get everybody’s best game.
“We all know the last time we saw each other was in an extremely important moment. They will have urgency, as should we.”