McNeese State University Cowgirls basketball coach Brooks Donald-Williams. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, January 30, 2014 1:57 PMWhile winter weather shut down much of Southwestern Louisiana the last two days, it didn’t stop the McNeese State Cowgirls’ preparations for their showdown with Central Arkansas at 5:30 p.m. today at the Civic Center.
Fortunately for McNeese (11-7, 4-3 Southland), all of its players live on campus, so practices went on as usual while classes were canceled Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Cowgirls will need all the preparation they can get with the Southland-leading Sugar Bears coming to town.
Central Arkansas (12-6, 6-1) has won seven of its last eight, including four straight, to propel itself to the top of the conference.
“They’ve really separated themselves from the beginning of league play,” said McNeese head coach Brooks Donald Williams. “They’re playing very balanced, too. They’ve got a lot of production from different kids and they’re balanced in scoring and rebounding. It’ll be tough. They’ve played well at home and on the road.”
The Sugar Bears’ 57.3 points allowed per game is the best in the conference by a five-point margin.
Slowing down Central Arkansas center Courtney Duever will be key for the Cowgirls.
Duever is the reigning SLC Player of the Week, her third such award this season. She’s averaging 14.5 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game, putting her in the top 10 of both categories in the conference.
“She’s really good, if not the best post player in our conference,” Donald Williams said. “She’s really tough. We’ve watched her for several years and we certainly know the task ahead is going to be a tough one.”
The nine-day gap between the Cowgirls’ last game, a 71-63 loss to Nicholls State, was the longest break McNeese has had since opening conference play. Donald Williams said the team has focused on consistency in that time.
“We’ve seen a lot of different teams out there on the court for us,” she said. “We know that we have the talent and we know there are a lot of good things we’ve seen from the young players and the veterans. It’s just about being consistent and we’ve harped on that for the last week or so.
“From one half to the next against Nicholls, you saw two totally different teams. We were all disappointed in that because we know we have better in us.”
Donald Williams also said they’ve been able to get rest and pay attention to cleaning up their play.
“I feel like we’d gotten a little bit sloppy,” she said. “Sometimes when you play three games in a row or several games in a row, you don’t have time to really work on fundamentals. That was my fear when I first saw the schedule, too, with Nicholls being right after two other games. This week has been good for healing ailments and also for sharpening our skills.”