Abilene escapes with one-point win

Cowboys can’t pull trigger on final shot

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So close for the McNeese State men’s basketball team.

The Cowboys were down one with a chance to win the game on the final possession but couldn’t get off a good final shot as visiting Abilene Christian beat McNeese 73-72 on Wednesday night at the Health and Human Performance Complex

It was a back-and-forth first half with ACU staying in the game because of its prolific 3-point shooting. The Wildcats went 8 of 15 from behind the arc, led by Payten Ricks’ 16 points on 6-of-9 3-point shooting.

The Cowboys finished the half without a point in the last 2:17, which allowed ACU to go on a 5-0 run which erased a 36-34 Cowboys lead and allowed the Wildcats to go into halftime up 39-36.

The second half did not start well for McNeese, as forward Sha’markus Kennedy picked up two quick fouls, his second and third, in the first 1:30 of the half. He was forced to the bench and Malik Hines replaced him. In the meantime, ACU extended on a three-point halftime lead while the Cowboys endured a scoreless drought of 5:56 going back to the end of the first half. The drought was ended by two Roydell Brown free throws. McNeese (5-11, 1-2 SLC) forced a turnover and Trey Touchet came down and hit a three in transition to cut ACU’s lead to 47-41.

ACU (13-3, 2-1) managed to hold the lead for most of the second half, with McNeese taking short-lived leads midway through the half. But the Wildcats always seemed to have a response and, as it has been all season, the Cowboys put together a string of possessions with head-scratching decisions that allowed ACU to pull away.

But McNeese never let the Wildcats get too far away. With under a minute remaining, ACU hit two free throws to go up 71-67. On the next possession, James Harvey hit an NBA-range three with a Wildcats defender all over him to cut the deficit to one point. The Wildcats came back down and hit two free throws to go back up by three points. A Kevin Hunt layup cut ACU’s lead to 73-72.

ACU’s Joe Pleasant was fouled and stepped to the line with a chance to put the Wildcats up 3, but he missed both free throws. The Cowboys got the rebound and Kevin Hunt dribbled down the court, only to have the ball slip out of his hands. That forced him to take a bad shot with the clock running out. While the shot went up in time, it was nowhere near the rim.

Harvey led McNeese with 17 points on 5-of-8 3-point shooting. Roydell Brown finished with a double-double, 15 points and 11 rebounds. Touchet and Jarren Greenwood each had six assists to lead McNeese

McNeese will be back in action again at 4:15 pm. Saturday when they travel east to take on New Orleans.

Abilene 73, McNeese 72

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