Harvey’s heroism

Comes off bench to score 19

{{tncms-inline alignment="left" content="<p><span>McNeese  77, N.C. Central 61</span></p>" id="4e7e00cb-3a3c-4c92-bfcf-9bd010b91a4c" style-type="quote" title="Pull Quote" type="relcontent"}}

With about 30 seconds left in the game, Heath Schroyer yelled excitedly and pumped his arms as the crowd roared.

The first-year McNeese State men’s head coach had every reason to celebrate as the Cowboys made history with a 77-61 win over visiting North Carolina Central on Thursday night in the Health and Human Performance Complex to snap a three-game losing streak.

The win was McNeese’s first over a Division I team this season and first over a nonconference Division I team since beating Tulane 70-63 on Dec. 19, 2016, a span of 13 games.

"It’s big man, it’s big," McNeese senior guard James Harvey said of the win. "When coach came with all the new recruits and all the new players, you could tell that we were going to be good. The season didn’t start off the way we might have wanted it, but coach challenged us before this game and told us we’ve got to reach our potential. It’s time for us to get to where we need to be and I think tonight, we just did that."

Harvey came off the bench and finished with a game-high 19 points, 15 of which came in the second half. While the Cowboys (3-6) struggled shooting the 3-pointer (2 of 15), Harvey hit the two 3s.

The Cowboys made 21 more free throws than the Eagles.

In the first half, the teams went back and forth, looking like two teams that had already played each other once this season. But NCC finished the first half strong and took a 30-24 lead into halftime.

The Eagles (4-7) picked up where they left off going into halftime. They extended the lead to 34-24 less than 90 seconds into the second half. From there, McNeese got going on both ends of the floor.

Defensively, they implemented a 1-3-1 zone and it gave NCC trouble. In the second half, the Eagles shot 40 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from 3-point range. Center Raasean Davis, who had 21 points and 17 rebounds the first time the two teams played, finished with 12 points and five rebounds on Thursday night. The defense also forced NCC into 11 second-half turnovers while McNeese committed six.

"It was a team effort," Schroyer said of what it took to slow Davis down. "I think our guys understood that he really had his way with us the last game. I think that we collectively did a good job of shrinking the floor.

"Their point guards made a couple threes in the first half because we were really shrinking the floor on him. We put a double-team (on Davis) in, I thought that was good for us. I thought the zone kind of got it out of his hands a little bit too. And I thought our bigs just stepped up to the challenge."

Junior guard Roydell Brown finished with a double-double for McNeese, picking up 12 points and 11 rebounds while also adding two assists and two steals. Malik Hines added 15 points and Will Robinson had 10.

Jibri Blount and Reggie Gardner Jr. added 11 points apiece for the Eagles, who lost to the Cowboys for the first time in four meetings.

While McNeese led by as many as 14 points late in the second half, a quick 5-0 run by NCC got the Eagles back to within nine with just under 2 minutes to play. The Cowboys blew a seven-point lead with a similar amount of time left in the game when the teams met earlier this season. But McNeese shook off any possible feelings of déjà vu and finished the game on a 7-0 run.

"I give thanks to (Schroyer) because he’s really on me," Brown said after the game. "I’ve never had a coach like that and I’m very thankful for it."

The Cowboys will travel to play Missouri-Kansas City at 6 p.m. Saturday, looking for their first Division I road win of the season.

<span>McNeese  77, N.C. Central 61</span>