It takes a lot of gas to get from Lake Charles to Tulsa, Okla.
It’ll take even more gas for McNeese State to get past Oral Roberts tonight. Running on empty after a 103-98 triple-overtime loss at Central Arkansas on Thursday night, the Cowboys (8-9, 2-5 Southland) will try to find the auxiliary power to get past the Golden Eagles (11-8, 6-1).
Four McNeese players played more than 40 minutes against the Bears.
“We did do a lot of good things against UCA. Hopefully those carry over,” said McNeese coach Dave Simmons. “But we will have to rely on guys who haven’t played as much to help us.”
If the physical toll wasn’t enough, there’s also the mental toll of losing a game that could have been won multiple times.
"It was a very emotional loss. We fought so hard,” said McNeese coach Dave Simmons. “They hit some unbelievable shots. We could have won it a lot of different ways. We just couldn’t close.”
UCA extended the game when Jarvis Garner hit 3-pointers at the end of regulation and the first overtime. Garner’s first 3 was nearly from half-court, and his second was banked in with Dontae Cannon guarding him.
Simmons said all that could have been avoided with better free-throw shooting and rebounding. The Cowboys were 15 of 29 from the line, and also gave up a conventional 3-point play after allowing an offensive rebound when they were up by four in the final minute of regulation.
“If we could have gotten that one (free throw) we’d be in great shape and going into this one with momentum,” Simmons said. “The most frustrating thing is the games you have control of to win it and you don’t. We had every opportunity to win the basketball game.”
Simmons said the Cowboys had a brief shootaround at ORU’s Mabee Center on Friday with several players sitting out altogether. Simmons said Cannon, Craig McFerrin, Austin Lewis and Jordan Wells are all likely to be game-time decisions.
With or without them, McNeese faces a tall task against a team that features the league’s top scorer in Warren Niles (19.7 ppg) and top rebounder in Damen Bell-Holter (9.7 rpg).
“It’s going to be a gritty game that we have to play and see what we’re made of,” Simmons said. “They can be beaten, but we’ve got to be smart to know if guys are injured that it’s still a (long) race. Right now you’re playing to be in a position to stay out of that ninth spot.”
• Note: Tonight’s game will be broadcast nationally on Fox College Sports (Suddenlink Ch. 133, Direct TV Ch. 608, 623 or 626).