Reeves, Berry lift Cowgirls past Nicholls

Published 4:01 pm Saturday, March 2, 2024

Where she had failed seven weeks earlier, Azjah Reeves succeeded. 

Back on Jan. 13, Reeves, a true freshman, had a chance to knock off Southeastern by making one of two free throws. She didn’t and the Cowgirls lost in overtime.

Saturday, Reeves stood at the same free-throw line with .4 seconds remaining in a tie game against Nicholls. Same type of situation, same pressure.

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Her first shot found nothing but the bottom of the net. Her second was also true and the Cowgirls had their first winning streak of the season.

Reeves, who played all 40 minutes, propelled McNeese State to a 78-76 victory over Nicholls in their final home game inside the Legacy Center. 

“I just believed,” said Reeves, who was fouled while trying for the game-winning jumper. “We have figured things out. I feel we have learned from our mistakes.”

The Cowgirls (6-24, 2-14 in the Southland Conference) showed their growth by not faltering down the stretch like they had before. They made 10 of 15 shots in the fourth quarter and 6 of 9 free throws.

“We are understanding what to do more and listening to him (head coach Lynn Kennedy) more,” said fellow freshman Boston Berry. “We have more confidence now.”

Berry made a traditional three-point play with 9.9 seconds left to give McNeese a 76-74 lead. Lake Arthur product Deonna Brister responded with a pair of free throws herself to tie the game up for Nicholls 76-76 with 6.7 seconds left. 

That set the stage for Reeves.

“(Kennedy) told me to take it and I did,” said Reeves. “I was going too fast to pass it.”

Reeves and Berry were two of four Cowgirls who finished in double figures. Reeves had 12 while Berry added 16, one short of her career high.

Mireia Yespes led McNeese with a game-high 19 points two days after scoring 23 against Houston Christian when the Cowgirls broke their 17-game losing streak.

Clara Rosini added 15 points and 11 rebounds while holding Nicholls’ top scorer Lexi Alexander to just four points, 10 below her average.

“We have seen the growth this year but not the wins,” said Kennedy. “To see that now is great. I wish we could play together until June.”

Nicholls (13-16, 7-10) was led by Kyla Hamilton. The Westlake High graduate finished with 18 points while Bister had 14.

McNeese led 18-13 after the first quarter but trailed 30-25 at the half. The Cowgirls closed the lead to 45-41 entering the fourth.

McNeese will try to finish with three straight wins Wednesday at New Orleans in the season finale.