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(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

Cowboys win first District 1 road game

Last Modified: Monday, January 13, 2014 2:11 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

BEAUMONT, Texas — McNeese State coach Dave Simmons decided he needed to send a message to DeSharick Guidry and the rest of his team Saturday evening.

Despite being the Cowboys’ leading rebounder, Guidry found himself on the bench to start Saturday’s game at Lamar. So did McNeese No. 2 rebounder Craig McFerrin. Both showed up late to Friday afternoon’s film session.

Guidry responded in the most positive way possible, coming off the bench for a season-high 21 points to lead McNeese to a 74-59 victory against rival Lamar. It is the first Division I road win of the season for the Cowboys (5-11, 3-1 Southland).

Guidry finished one rebound shy of a double-double.

“He was just late for a meeting,” Simmons said. “But if you don’t address those things now, it will hurt you at some point down the stretch. He and Craig didn’t do anything wrong, but we had established that as a rule from Day 1. They understood. Any guy knows if they’re late, they’ll sit.”

Guidry agreed with Simmons’ decision.

“I had to accept my responsibility,” Guidry said. “Coach was worried us sitting out would do something to our self-esteem or our pride. But the younger players look up to us. If we’re late all the time, they’re going to feel they can be late. So we have to set an example. I just told him, ‘I accept it. Whenever you call my number, I’ll be ready.’”

When the chips were down, Simmons showed his faith in Guidry. After the junior forward picked up his fourth foul with 8:57 remaining, Simmons kept him on the floor.

“Against a 1-3-1 (zone), we needed him,” Simmons said. “He’s a very important person because he can handle the ball, he can post and he can pass. You needed him in the game. We rolled the dice. I said, ‘We’ve got to win. As long as we’ve got a 13-point lead, we’ve got to try and stretch it out.’

“It doesn’t do us any good to have him on the bench in that crucial time.”

Austin Lewis, who started in Guidry’s place, provided McNeese with eight points and a solid presence in the middle in the Cowboys’ zone defense. However, Simmons said stiffness in Lewis’ back only allowed the 6-foot-8 sophomore to play 11 minutes.

Lamar (1-15, 0-4), which lost its 12th consecutive game, shot 33.9 percent from the field (19 of 56) against the Cowboys zone, and went 0-for-8 from 3-point range.

“We couldn’t have gotten better shots,” said Lamar coach Pat Knight. “We were just missing layups.”

The Cowboys were 28 of 61 (45.9 percent) from the field, but had their worst night of the season at the free-throw line, making 10 of 21 attempts.

McNeese led by double digits for virtually the entire game. Ledrick Eackles was the only Cowboy besides Guidry to score in double figures with 15 points.

Guard Kevin Hardy led all players with 11 rebounds.

Hardy also took part in the most sportsmanlike moment of the game, staying under the Lamar hoop as Cardinals guard Nimrod Hilliard lay on the ground in a heap with McNeese on a fast break at the other end.

“I fell on him toward the end of the play, and saw he was holding his leg,” Hardy said. “I wanted to make sure everything was OK with him. I had confidence we were going to score on the fast break.”

Hilliard was helped off the floor by trainers, but would later return.

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