Cowboys look to celebrate with victory

Published 11:34 am Sunday, March 3, 2024

With one Southland title already captured and the other a week away, the Cowboys still have a little work to do.

Monday night, McNeese State will be officially crowned the regular season champs of the Southland Conference win or lose.

Whether they beat Houston Christian or not in the home finale, the Cowboys will get their trophy. The nets will even be cut down in front of their fans.

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Then again, it isn’t the home finale.

McNeese will play at least one more game inside the Legacy Center when it hosts the Southland Conference Tournament starting next week. Having already claimed the top seed and double-bye, McNeese won’t open tourney play until the semifinal round.

That makes Monday’s celebration a possible practice for the real prize, the tourney title.

“It’s great we can share this with our home fans,” said McNeese forward Christian Shumate. 

McNeese will enter its battle with HCU at 26-3, 15-1 in the SLC and the talk of college basketball having already won 15 more games than the year before. The Huskies (6-21, 4-12) are just trying to make the postseason. 

They are tied for the eighth and final tournament spot with New Orleans. 

The Cowboys will be looking to sweep the series with HCU after winning the first game 105-54 in Houston back on Feb. 12. DJ Richards led five McNeese players in double figures with 16. Marcus Greene and Dominic Capriotti had 15 for the Huskies. 

The 51-point victory was the most by a Cowboy team in Southland competition as all 12 players scored in the blowout. McNeese knocked down 56 percent of its shots from the field (40 of 71) and connected on a season-high 15 three-pointers (15-32 for 47%).

“Just because it happened in the first game doesn’t mean it is going to happen that way in the next one,” said McNeese head coach Will Wade. “I wish it did. We will have to come out and be ready to play.”

The Cowboys are coming off an 83-62 victory over Nicholls Saturday that clinched their first SLC title in 13 seasons. Shumate celebrated that day by tying the program record for career double-doubles with 32 after scoring 11 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Shahada Wells continued his Player of the Year campaign with 16 points and six assists.

McNeese will finish the regular season on Wednesday night in New Orleans.