Cowgirls win big in first game back from extended break

Published 5:00 am Monday, January 10, 2022

Looking to get back on the court after an 18-day break extended by COVID, the Cowgirls found the perfect scrimmage partner Sunday afternoon.

Caught between Burton Coliseum and the Legacy Center, McNeese State’s women’s basketball team found comfort in the oldest of homes.

Playing back on campus in the Rec Center, the Cowgirls toyed with Ecclesia College in what amounted little more than a tuneup game.

The Cowgirls (5-8) got ready for Saturday’s Southland Conference opener, and the re-opening of their rebuilt arena, with a 108-39 dismantling of the Royals before pizza-eating students. It was the most points scored under first-year coach Lynn Kennedy.

“We had such a long break it was great to play somebody different, somebody new,” said Kennedy. “We needed to get back on the court and get some game experience. This was good for us.”

McNeese finished with a school-record 35 assists on 43 baskets and made 14 of 27 3-point attempts. They also had 19 steals while forcing 27 turnovers.

“We have been talking about moving the ball and today we shared the ball well,” said Kennedy. “We didn’t get caught with the ball not moving. We had good rotation.”

Kyla Hamilton led the way for McNeese. The sophomore point guard hit on 10 of 12 shots from the floor, including 3 for 4 from three, dished out seven assists, had five steals and four rebounds while leading all scores with 24 points.

“She really controlled the game and took charge,” Kennedy said of Hamilton. “She stepped up and hit her shots when she had them as well.”

Freshman Taylor Watkins finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, as McNeese got 61 points from their rookie class.

“This was big for their confidence,” said Kennedy. “We are such a young team and we are going to need those players to help us in the conference.”

After Ecclesia scored the game’s first five points, the Cowgirls went on a whopping 41-4 run to end the first quarter. It was the most points they have scored in a quarter in school history, breaking the old mark of 40 which had been done twice.

Hamilton had 13 while Chamberlin added six as nine Cowgirls scored in the first 10 minutes. It only got worse from there.

By halftime the lead had swelled to 68-20 as McNeese forced 18 turnovers and hit on 11 of 22 shots from behind the 3-point line in the first two quarters.

About the only drama of the second half came late when those remaining saw Watkins hit a driving layup to put McNeese over the 100-point mark with 2:44 remaining.

Ecclesia (5-9) was led by Grace Crawford who finished with 20 points as the Royals were held to just 22 percent shooting (10-45).

NOTE: Cowgirl leading scorer Desirae Hansen did not play. She was being rested and Kennedy said Hansen will play this weekend.