McNeese State's Desharick Guidry goes in for a basket during the Cowboys' loss to Nicholls State Tuesday night.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 11:50 AMDeath. Taxes. McNeese and Nicholls basketball going down to the wire.
The Cowboys and Colonels engaged in another of their patented nail-biters Tuesday at the Lake Charles Civic Center, with Nicholls pulling out the 87-79 win in overtime.
It was the second overtime game between the two teams in their last three meetings.
You don’t need a coroner to determine the cause of the Cowboys’ demise.
Shaquille O’Neal, one of the worst free-throw shooters in basketball history, shot 52.7 percent from the line in his career. McNeese was 44.8 percent (13 of 29) from the charity stripe against the Colonels.
“We lost the game at the line,” said guard Ledrick Eackles, who had 17 points but was 3 of 7 at the line. “I airballed a free throw. I haven’t done that since I don’t know when. I missed one down the stretch. We shot bad as a team on the free-throw line. If we make them, we would have won this game by 6 (or) 7 points. It never would have went into overtime.”
Perplexingly, McNeese (6-13, 4-3 Southland) entered the game ranked second in the league in free-throw percentage.
“I never thought it would come down to free throws,” Simmons said. “That’s one thing we’ve been good at all year. I can’t explain it.”
Was playing in the Civic Center for the first time this year a factor?
“It’s different, but the goal’s 10-feet,” Simmons said. “They were making theirs when they needed them. And it was our best free-throw shooters missing them. We never could get a guy to knock down two in a row.”
The loss is a tough way for McNeese to go into a nine-day layoff before playing its next game against Central Arkansas on Jan. 30.
“I think for us it will be a good thing to rest our legs a little bit and recuperate,” said Keelan Garrett, who had a career-high 21 points against his former school. “I think next game we’ll come out strong. We just have to have some good practices.”
The Cowboys had a shot to win it at the end of regulation, but Eackles 3-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim, the backboard, and then back off the rim to send the teams to overtime tied at 72.
“It was a great look, and I knew it had to drop,” Eackles said. “But it bounced around and came out. Ugh. It’s one of those shots.”
Nicholls (8-8, 5-2) tied the game on a Jeremy Smith layup with 19.9 seconds left.
“I take the blame for that,” Garrett said. “I gave up the layup, so that’s on me.”
Smith finished with 25 points, while Dantrell Thomas had a game-high 27 to lead the Colonels.
McNeese could not get anything to fall in overtime.
The Cowboys missed their first seven shot attempts, failing to capitalize on two possessions kept alive thanks to offensive rebounds from their smallest player on the floor, Shaun Johnson.
“When Shaun’s getting rebounds and we can’t score off of them, you know things aren’t going good,” Eackles said.
Nicholls finished the game shooting 56.9 percent (29 of 51) from the field and 64.7 percent (22 of 34) from the line.