LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - McNeese turned the ball over a season-high 23 times with Louisiana-Lafayette scoring 27 points off those turnovers while UL Lafayette’s Malik Marquetti scored 29 points to lead the Cajuns to an 80-67 win over the Cowboys in front of 2,590 fans on Tuesday night.
In addition to the 27 points scored off turnovers, UL Lafayette also registered 20 second-chance points off 17 offensive rebounds.
“I’m disappointed in the way we played tonight,” said head coach Heath Schroyer. “We shot ourselves in the foot a lot. You’re not going to win games when you turn it over 23 times and give up 27 points off turnovers.”
Despite the miscues, the Cowboys stayed close with the Cajuns until late in the second half thanks to a double-double by Malik Hines with 14 points and a career-tying 13 rebounds. Jarren Greenwood and Roydell Brown also added 14 points each.
McNeese trailed 42-33 at the half but was only down 29-28 after a Hines layup with 4:34 to play. But the Cajuns followed with 10 straight points, scoring four off back-to-back Cowboy turnovers, to help widen the lead.
“There are no drills to top turnovers,” said Schroyer. “I give them (UL Lafayette) a lot of credit. They’re a very good basketball team. They have seven guys on their team that have been together for three years.”
McNeese also played the last 9:48 of the second half without one of its bigs in Sha’Markus Kennedy who was struck with foul trouble. With Kennedy on the bench, UL Lafayette was able to corral four offensive rebounds and score five points, while McNeese’s offense was held to just two second-chance opportunities.
“He’s been in foul trouble the last two games,” said Schroyer of Kennedy. “He’s the best rim protector we have.”
McNeese made several runs in the second half, pulling to within three points at 52-49 following a Greenwood layup with 11:41 to play but a 16-7 UL Lafayette run followed as a three-pointer by Marquetti put the Cajuns up 68-56 with 6:29 to play.
Marquetti wasn’t finished. He knocked down two more 3s over the next three minutes, while the Cowboys went on a two-minute scoring drought, to make it a 76-60 UL Lafayette lead with 3:23 to play.
“Marquetti stepped up and made some big shots for them,” said Schroyer. “He’s a heck of a player.”
A scuffle between the two teams with 47 seconds to play resulted in ejections for McNeese’s Richard Laku and UL Lafayette’s Jerekius Davis and Justin Miller.
The Cowboys hit 23 of 54 from the field for 43 percent while UL Lafayette shot 42 percent (30 of 72) and taking 18 more shots than McNeese.
“Bottom line, we turned it over 23 times. That’s 23 shots we didn’t get to take because of turnovers.”
Marcus Stroman added 20 points for the Cajuns while Davis scored 12 and Miller 11.
McNeese held a 47-32 advantage in rebounds.
The Cowboys will next be in action on Saturday when they visit UT Rio Grande Valley in their final game before the Christmas break. McNeese’s next game at home will be on Dec. 30 against Campbellsville-Herrodsburg.