CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (KPLC)-McNeese State snapped out of a four game losing streak here Saturday night by knocking off TAM-Corpus Christi 71-69 in its Southland Conference opener.
The Cowboys, now 5-8 on the season and 1-0 in league play, began defense of their SLC title by producing one of their better three point shooting efforts of the season, making nine of 16 for a 56 percentage, and all five starters contributed down the stretch.
McNeese had held a 56-49 lead with eight minutes left in the game but were outscored 7-2 over the next five minutes as the Islanders pulled to within two. Daniel Richard put the Cowboys back up by four with a layup, Jeremie Mitchell pitched in one of two free throws and Rudy Turner made a layup and a free shot.
Still, with 1:30 to go the Cowboys were up only 63-60 and that set the stage for Patrick Richard to push in six straight points. Dontae Cannon scored the final Cowboy point on a free throw.
A three point heave by A&M-Corpus Christi's Hameed Ali pulled the Islanders to within two as time ran out.
"This was a good win for us," said Cowboy head coach Dave Simmons. "In fact, it's the first win we have had in Corpus Christi since I've been here. We had four double figure scorers in tonight's game and I'm glad to see that Patrick and Jeremie are getting some help. We're still having trouble at the free throw line and we will have to work on that.
"It was good to see Rudy have another good game. All in all, it was a conference win and it was on the road. Now we go back home to face a good Lamar team on Wednesday."
Patrick Richard led the Cowboys' four double scorers with 19 points. Mitchell had 18, Cannon 14 and Turner 13. Turner also led in rebounds with nine while Cannon had six and Patrick Richard and Daniel Richard four each.
As a team McNeese made 46 percent of its shots from the floor (24 of 52) and 61 percent of its free throws (14 of 23). TAM-Corpus also had a 46 shooting percentage (26 of 56) and made but 57 percent of its free throws (13 of 23). The Islanders outrebounded McNeese by a 38-33 count.
The Islanders, now 1-13 overall and 0-2 in league play, also had four double figure scorers. Terence Jones and Chris Hawkins-Mast both had 13 points and Johnathan Jordan and Nate Maxey had 11 each. Myron Dempsey led the team and the game in rebounds with
The Cowboys had gone into the dressing room with a 39-31 lead at halftime, thanks to some nifty three point shooting, mainly by Mitchell. The Cowboy junior scored all 12 of his points in the first half from long distance range, leading McNeese to a 78 shooting percentage from that distance, the team making seven of nine.
That first half had the Cowboys shooting a season best 65 percent from the floor as they made 15 of 23 attempts. Patrick Richard was also in double scoring figures in that half with 10 points while Cannon had nine points and Turner had six along with five rebounds.
McNeese got off to a 5-0 lead with Turner tapping in a goal and Mitchell hitting his first of four in that half. The Cowboys got out as far as 13 points at 39-26 with 3:05 left but allowed the Islanders to score the final five points of the half and took their eight point lead into the dressing room.