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McNeese sophomore forward Desharick Guidry hit a career-high six 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 24 points against Central Arkansas Saturday night. (American Press Archives)

McNeese sophomore forward Desharick Guidry hit a career-high six 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 24 points against Central Arkansas Saturday night. (American Press Archives)

Cowboys, Cowgirls travel to play Lions tonight

Last Modified: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 7:11 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

The free-throw bug bit back at the worst possible time for McNeese State.

With a chance to take control of their own destiny for earning the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in this year’s Southland Conference basketball tournament, the Cowboys chucked it away at the line in Saturday’s 68-67 loss to Central Arkansas.

After shooting 72.5 percent from the line in its previous six games, McNeese (12-15, 6-10 SLC) regressed to its early season form and then some by going 4 of 14 (28.6 percent) against the Bears.

“I’m going to take pressure off the kids. We won’t even mention free throws in practice,” McNeese coach Dave Simmons said on Tuesday. “We won’t shoot free throws in practice. We’ve tried everything. Right now it’s all mental. We’ve got to stay positive and not put pressure on the kids.”

McNeese can earn the fourth seed by winning its remaining games at Southeastern Louisiana (10-17, 8-8) and Nicholls State (8-19, 7-10), though it will also need the unlikely scenario of getting help from woeful Lamar against SLU in the season finale.

Simmons said he’s only focused on the things that can be controlled by the Cowboys, beginning with tonight’s game at SLU.

“Obviously the positive to feed the kids is that we can still finish fourth and get a bye,” Simmons said. “But the biggest thing is we’ve got to win. We’ve got to take care of our business and let whatever else happens happen.”

Though McNeese shot poorly from the line against UCA, the offense got a boost from the increasingly difficult-to-defend Desharick Guidry that almost made up for it.

The sophomore forward demonstrated how dangerous he is from outside, hitting a career-high six 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 24 points.

“He’s showed me a lot,” Simmons said. “Players have got to get better every year. That’s a weapon we’ve kind of minimized, but he’s really made some shots to help us.”

Guidry had 17 points and nine rebounds in the Cowboys’ 65-58 win over SLU on Feb. 19. The Lions are in a four-game skid that began with that loss.

Cowgirls face Lady Lions in must-win game

The McNeese State Cowgirls have been adept at bouncing back from tough losses this season — but they’ve reached the point where there’s no room left for bouncing.

The Cowgirls must regroup from their senior day overtime loss to Central Arkansas for today’s game at Southeastern Louisiana if they want to avoid potentially falling out of the top-four seeds in the Southland Conference basketball tournament and the all-important bye that comes with that distinction.

“Because of our inconsistency, they’ve shown a lot of fight coming back from disappointing losses,” said Cowgirls coach Brooks Donald Williams. “I could go back through the whole season and name them all. We’re proud of the fight, because you can easily let one loss equal two. They’ve done a good job of responding.”

McNeese (15-12, 10-6 SLC) kissed any realistic chance at the tournament No. 1 seed good-bye with the UCA loss, but Donald Williams said she’s comfortable with being the No. 3 or 4. In that scenario, the Cowgirls would simply have to repeat what they have done the last two years — win three games in Katy, Texas, and advance to the NCAA tournament.

“For this team, it’s very important (to be in the top four). I really liked the old format, and obviously we’ve been very successful with it,” Donald Williams said of this year’s tournament changes. “But when I saw the new format, I thought it’s not really a bad thing if you have three games like the past two years.

“It’s not a negative thing at all if we’re going in as a 3 or 4 seed. But we have to make sure it’s not four (games in four days) with the depth and inexperience.”

McNeese will be getting all it can handle from SLU tonight. The Lions (11-16, 4-12) must win both of their games to have a shot at qualifying for the tournament.

“We’ve got to get better all week so we can prepare for the tournament and put ourselves in a better position for the tournament,” Donald Williams said.

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