There's no time better than the present for the McNeese State women's basketball team to try and make a run that would shoot them up the Southland Conference standings.
Starting with tonight's home game against Southeastern Louisiana, the Cowgirls (4-12, 1-6 SLC) play three consecutive games against teams — SLU, Houston Baptist and Nicholls State — that are at or near the bottom of the standings.
Those three teams have a combined conference record of 3-18. If the Cowgirls can do like their male counterparts and go on a winning streak, it could shoot them up from 11th place and into position to compete for the eighth and final conference tournament berth. McNeese is 2.5 games behind Incarnate Word for that spot.
But before the Cowgirls can hope to go dancing in March, they have to deal with an SLU team that will be looking to jump-start its hopes of making the conference tournament. The Lions (5-11, 2-5) have lost three games in a row, the most recent a 61-53 setback at Abilene Christian on Saturday.
For McNeese, the status of senior guard Regan Bolton is uncertain. Bolton suffered a concussion in the Cowgirls' loss to Incarnate Word on Jan. 15, leaving McNeese with even less firepower.
Going up against SLU, McNeese's hope is to finish the game more like it did against Northwestern State — outscoring the Demons 33-20 in the second half — than it did in losses to Abilene Christian and New Orleans. McNeese was outscored 57-31 in the fourth quarter of those two losses.
If McNeese is going to end its two-game losing streak, stopping the SLU trio of Celica Sterling, Jyar Francis and Alexius Horne will be a priority. All three average double figures and have combined for 34.5 of the Lions' 61.1 points per game.
The Cowgirls counter with Damilola Balogun (10.1 ppg), who leads the SLC in rebounding (9.4 rpg).
The Cowgirls lead the series 38-10 and have won 10 in a row, including last year's 75-70 win in Hammond on Feb. 16. The last time McNeese lost to the Lions was Jan. 2, 2014.