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Nicholls State keeps McNeese winless in SLC play

Last Modified: Monday, January 07, 2013 10:28 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Dontae Cannon had a chance at last-second heroics, but his turnaround jumper at the buzzer bounded off the glass and the front of the rim as McNeese State suffered a devastating 64-63 loss to Nicholls State to remain winless in Southland Conference play.

Cannon dribbled the length of the floor as McNeese inbounded following a timeout with 5.7 seconds left. Adrian Fields tipped in Cannon’s miss, but the buzzer had already sounded.

“I felt it was a pretty good shot. Probably the best shot I could get with about 5 seconds left,” Cannon said. “I just couldn’t knock it down. I thought I’d be able to bank it in easily. It just rimmed out a little bit.”

The game was full of dramatic ebbs and flows. McNeese trailed by as many as 19 in the first half, then led by as many as 8 with just under 8 minutes remaining. However, the Colonels were able to finish the game on a 17-8 run to eke out the win.

“You can’t spot anybody in our league 18 points,” said McNeese coach Dave Simmons. “And then late in the game we made crucial mistakes. We missed free throws and we didn’t rebound the ball. We forced shots that you probably want back. We had the effort, but you have to have more of it than just 20 minutes.”

Now McNeese (6-7, 0-3 Southland) must turn the tables after digging itself a huge hole in the conference race.

“Our confidence is not where it should be right now,” Cannon said. “Nobody’s going to have really good confidence coming off three losses like that. We’ve just got to get back to work and be ready for Thursday.”

Rebounding will be a key piece in turning things around.

Nicholls (3-10, 2-1) outrebounded McNeese 41-32, with a pair of offensive rebounds by forward Fred Hunter in the last two minutes proving particularly damaging. Hunter scored the Colonels’ final point on a free throw with 1:32 remaining that came as a result of one of his 5 offensive boards.

“If we get those rebounds, we probably win the game,” Simmons said. “That’s the biggest thing, that extra effort, that extra will to win. Right now we don’t have it as a team. But we’re getting there.”

The Cowboys were hurt down the stretch by the absence of forward Desharick Guidry, who fouled out with 4:39 remaining.

“He’s our best rebounder and with him on the bench, that hurts,” Simmons said. “With 20/20 hindsight maybe I could have done some other things to get big kids in there that could have helped us. But those guys fought hard to come back and I wanted to give them a chance to win the basketball game.”

Seemingly everyone was absent for McNeese in the first 20 minutes as the Colonels waltzed out to a 38-22 lead.

“The first half, we just didn’t come out with any energy or enthusiasm,” Cannon said. “We didn’t play good defense or anything like that. We’ve got to play 40 minutes like we did in the second half.”

Dantrell Thomas scored a game-high 24 points for Nicholls, while Hunter recorded a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

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