Cowboys respond, topple Commerce

Published 10:40 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

Consider the message received.

Just 50 hours after dropping their first game since Thanksgiving the Cowboys responded to head coach Will Wade’s pleas for attention to detail.

After another sluggish first half filled with fouls, McNeese State game in plenty of time to bury Texas A&M-Commerce 77-51 Monday night inside the Legacy Center.

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The victory came one day after a spirited practice Sunday.

“To be honest it was the film session, that was a tough one,” said Mike Saunders, who finished with 14 points off the McNeese bench.

“That was a tough one but we needed it. We know coach has what is best for us.”

The win was McNeese’s 15th in its last 16 games as the Cowboys rebounded from Saturday’s loss to Southeastern.

McNeese improved to 20-3 on the year and 9-1 in the Southland Conference. Commerce fell to 8-15, 2-8.

“It was a nice win, a good bounce back,” said Wade. “I thought our response was tremendous.

“Losing has a way of sending a message.”

The win also kept McNeese a perfect 10-0 at home and gives the Cowboys a game-and-a-half lead over Nicholls and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. 

Shahada Wells led all scorers with 16 points and six rebounds, and DJ Richards added 13, all in the second half. Kwo Agwa and Tommie Lewis each had 10 for Commerce.

“It took us a while to get going on offense,” said Wade. “In the first half, it was hard to get our shooters loose.”

McNeese missed all five of its three-point shots in the first half but still found a way to grab a 30-26 lead at the break despite Javohn Garcia and Christian Shumate being in early foul trouble.

Then the Cowboys found their game.

“We figured out what we needed to do,” said Wells. “We fixed the things we needed to fix.”

Wells led the way with 10 points in the second half while Richards hit all four of his shots from the floor, three from long range, while scoring 13.

McNeese went on a big run with Wells and Antavion Collum each hitting a pair of threes as the Cowboys grabbed a 54-35 lead with 12 minutes remaining. From there the Pokes just kept adding on.