Cowgirls win first road game, use balanced attack to rout Colonels

Published 12:00 pm Friday, January 20, 2023

THIBODAUX — McNeese State led from start to finish in a dominant performance, beating host Nicholls State 77-68 Thursday night in a Southland Conference women’s basketball game.

It was the Cowgirls’ first road win of the season in nine games, giving them back-to-back wins for the second time this season. The teams will meet again Saturday in Lake Charles.

McNeese placed four players in double-figure scoring for a fifth consecutive game.

Email newsletter signup

Divine Tanks and Autumn Watts led the Cowgirls (6-11, 3-3 SLC) with 13 points apiece. Tanks also pulled down six rebounds. Paris Mullins followed with 11 points and Desirae Hansen finished with 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Both Watts and Mullins came off the bench as depth helped the Cowgirls wear down the Colonels, getting 34 points from the bench compared to Nicholls’ one.

Sophomore Deonta Brister, of Lake Arthur, led the Colonels (4-13, 1-5) with her third double-double the season with 22 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. It was the third game in a row, and fourth of the season, that Brister scored at least 20 points.

Lexi Alexander, who had nine rebounds, followed with 19 points, and Traya Bruce added 12 points. Kyla Hamilton, a junior from Westlake who played at Sam Houston High, contributed 10 points, seven assists and six steals — both game highs — against her former team.

The Cowgirls, who led by as many as 19 points, put the game away at the free throw line, hitting 5 of 6 shots in the final 1:14 for their third consecutive win over the Colonels, who lost their second in a row.

The first half ended the way the game started — tied. But the Cowgirls took over with a forceful third quarter, outscoring the Colonels 24-9 for a 61-46 lead behind eight points from Divine and a pair of 3-pointers by Hansen.

“We played really well in the third quarter,” said Cowgirls head coach Lynn Kennedy. “Our defensive intensity got us stops and that confidence carried over to the offensive end and we were able to extend the lead.”

The Cowgirls shot 56.4 from the field, including 6 of 19 from behind the 3-point arc. They were 9 of 17 from the line and won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Colonels 42-32.

“Give (the Colonels) credit for their run in the fourth quarter, but it’s the second straight game we continued playing at a high level to finish the game.”

Nicholls St.. . . . . . . . . . 73

Cowboys. . . . . . . . . . . . 63

Defending conference champion Nicholls State sent McNeese State to its fourth consecutive loss behind Latrell Jones’ double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Caleb Huffman (15), Pierce Spencer (14) and Marek Nelson (10) also finished in double-figure scoring for the Colonels (9-9, 4-2), who improved to 7-0 at home.

Zach Scott paced the Cowboys (5-14, 2-4 SLC) with 15 points. Donovan Oday scored 11 and Trae English and Harwin Francois added 10 apiece. Christian Shumate led the Cowboys with a game-high 12 rebounds.

McNeese owned a two-point halftime lead, but Nicholls took control in the second half, outscoring the Cowboys by 11.

Nicholls won despite shooting 30.8 percent from the line and being outrebounded 42-36.

But the Colonels were 11 of 27 from 3-point range.

The teams will meet again Saturday in Lake Charles.