LAKE CHARLES – James Harvey’s three-point shot from the baseline for the win at the buzzer was off the mark as Northwestern State held off a McNeese rally to post a 74-72 Southland Conference win over the Cowboys here Saturday afternoon.
Roydell Brown led McNeese with 21 points but with 9:15 to play in the second half, Brown left the game with an ankle injury and did not return. At that point of the game, McNeese had just trimmed a 9-point deficit down to 60-56 after Brown connected on a layup. Running down and setting up on defense, Brown’s ankle turned on him and he hit the floor.
“Obviously not having Roydell in there was big,” said head coach Heath Schroyer. “But our guys played hard. I think they just wore us down at the end of the first half and later in the game.”
McNeese (7-16, 3-7 SLC) tied things up at 72-72 with 1:21 to play following three James Harvey free throws. Then after Jarren Greenwood stole the ball from NSU big man Ishmael Lane, who finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds for his seventh straight double-double, Trey Touchet missed on a contested layup with 47 seconds to play.
The Demons corralled the rebound and Malik Metoyer laid in the two to put NSU up 74-72 with 17 seconds to play.
McNeese called a couple of timeouts to set up a play, after a missed layup and jump ball went McNeese’s possession with 1.7 seconds to play.
“We went with our veteran point guard (Greenwood) to make the read and he saw James out on the baseline and gave him the ball,” said Schroyer.
Inbounding the ball on the baseline under the Cowboys’ goal, Harvey, who finished with 14 points including 3 of 11 from long range, fired up a shot with a Demon in his face as the ball fell well short of its mark.
Kevin Hunt added 16 points of 5 of 9 shooting that included four three-pointers, and Sha’Markus Kenney scored 11.
DeAndre Love led NSU with 24 points as 22 of those were scored in the first half behind five three-point goals.
McNeese shot just 38 percent for the game (25 of 66) while the Demons sank 28 of 54 for 51.9 percent. NSU was 9 of 21 from long range while the Cowboys hit 9 of 27 from behind the arc.
The Cowboys led by as many as 11 points midway through the first half but the Demons rallied and made it a 41-40 McNeese lead with under a minute to play.
McNeese will now hit the road for two straight games beginning Wednesday at Stephen F. Austin and next Saturday at Southeastern Louisiana.
• Roydell Brown recorded his fifth 20-point game in the last six outings.
• With 14 points scored, James Harvey has moved into 24th place on the McNeese all-time scoring list, now with 1,141 points.
• The attendance of 2,722 was the second-largest of the season for the Cowboys.
• NSU swept the season series over the Cowboys. NSU won 66-61 in Natchitoches back on Jan. 5.