McNeese State head men's basketball coach Dave Simmons. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, February 03, 2013 8:50 PM
It was not a very super Sunday for McNeese State.
The Cowboys lost their fourth straight, an 86-74 decision to rival Northwestern State.
“Don’t give up yet. Keep working hard in practice every day,” senior guard Dontae Cannon said of what the Cowboys must do. “We can still get hot and get in the tournament.”
The free-throw line continues to be a place of great trouble for McNeese. The Cowboys shot 59.3 percent (16 of 27) from the charity stripe.
“It’s the same thing. We’ve got to hit our free throws to stay in a ballgame,” said coach Dave Simmons. “When we got fouled and went to the line, we missed ours, and they made theirs.”
Northwestern State (13-7, 8-2 Southland) took advantage of its trips to the line, going 24 of 29.
The final 3 minutes of the first half ultimately made the difference. The Demons (13-7, 8-2 Southland) closed the half on a 9-0 run to take a 42-28 lead into the locker room. McNeese forward Desharick Guidry was on the bench for that run due to having two fouls.
“That was a very critical part of the game,” Simmons said. “(Guidry) does a lot for us on the floor. We weren’t able to hold on and they made a big run, and we opened up the second half in a hole.”
The lead expanded to as many as 18 with just over 8 minutes left before the Cowboys (8-12, 2-8) finally started making some shots behind the arc to try and make it interesting. The unlikely long-range catalyst was Guidry, who hit a 3 and got fouled while shooting another before making all his free throws.
“It’s not about being bold or taking charge of the team,” said Guidry, who finished with 12 points. “I have confidence in my three-pointer. I know I can knock it down. We need all the points we can. It’s all or nothing.”
McNeese got as close as 7 in the final 2 minutes.
However, an offensive rebound by Northwestern forward DeQuan Hicks with 36 seconds left proved to be the final straw. Hicks was fouled immediately and hit both free throws to put the Demons back ahead by 10.
McNeese’s losing streak has been part of a brutal schedule stretch that has seen the Cowboys play the league’s top three teams in consecutive games.
Cannon led all scorers, tying a career-high with 22 points. Craig McFerrin added 15 points and 7 rebounds for McNeese, and Adrian Fields had 12 off the bench.
James Hulbin led the Demons with 18 points off the bench, while Hicks added 16.