(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Cecilia Okoye and the Cowgirls return to play tonight.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 5:31 PM
It’s throwback night for McNeese State basketball. Unofficially, anyway.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will be facing the same former Southland Conference rival, albeit in different locations.
The Cowboys travel to Ruston to face Louisiana Tech for a 6:30 p.m. tip, while the Cowgirls play host to the Lady Techsters at 7 p.m. in Burton Coliseum.
The Cowboys (2-7) are still seeking their first win against a Division I opponent this season, and the path to that goal doesn’t get any easier against the Bulldogs.
Tech (8-3) has only dropped one home game this year, falling 89-80 to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Bulldogs are expected to contend for the Conference USA title.
So it’s not just that the Cowboys are in the middle of a nine-game road trip. It’s also that every team they visit seems to be pretty darn good.
The upside for McNeese is some key pieces are back in the lineup.
Desharick Guidry returned from an eight-game absence with a 17-point, nine-rebound effort at Texas A&M. Keelan Garrett, who had missed three games with a groin injury, added 13 against the Aggies. Matthew Moss, making his McNeese debut after transfering from ULL last year, hit a 3 on the first shot he took as a Cowboy.
The trick is getting those pieces to fit together.
“We’ve got to figure out a good-chemistry rotation of getting quality minutes out of the guys that are on the floor,” said coach Dave Simmons.
The Cowgirls (5-3) have a luxury compared to their male counterparts — home-court advantage. They’ll be trying to improve to 4-0 at Burton this season at the expense of the Lady Techsters.
“That’s the biggest thing about being home, is having people support you. There’s nothing like that feeling for a student-athlete,” said Cowgirls coach Brooks Donald Williams. “In 2009 we had our best crowd in Cowgirl history at that point against Tech. This community really put us in a great position. That was like nothing our kids had seen or heard before. We’re hoping we can have that advantage again.”
Forward Cecilia Okoye comes into the game as the defending Southland player of the week following her 17-point, 14-rebound peformance against Louisiana-Monroe.
“Every day we need to get a lot out of her to be what we want to be as a team,” Donald Williams said. “Having a double-double one night and then then next night 4 or 5 (points and rebounds) is not acceptable. We want the best out of her every night, because she is so capable of doing it.”
Tech (3-6) has won two in a row, beating ULL 51-44 and Northwestern State 74-40. The Lady Techsters have lost to a Southland opponent this season, falling 80-78 at Nicholls.