Lake Charles— McNeese State tied its best Southland Conference start here tonight with a 68-53 Southland Conference victory to improve to 16-4 overall and 6-0 in league play. Last year the Cowgirls also began the conference race at 6-0. The win improved McNeese's series record to 52-12 and the Cowgirls have now won the last nine meetings between the two teams.
McNeese held the league's second best scorer (Sumar Leslie) well below her average. Leslie entered the game with the league's second best field goal percent and free throw percent. She came into the game averaging 20.5 ppg., a 52.2 field goal percent and a 93.3 free throw percent. She was also named the league's and Louisiana's Player of the Week earlier Monday. Leslie ended the game with five points on a 6 for 15 shooting night.
The Cowgirls also held the Colonels' third leading scorer (KK
Babin) and the league's player with the most three-pointers made.
Babin came into the game averaging 13.4 ppg. and left Burton Coliseum with two points and was 0 fro 4 from three point range.
"I thought the kids followed the game plan to a "T" and more.
When you can hold the league's top scorer below her average, somebody is playing good defense. We matched up with their intensity and went about and beyond theirs. This has to be one of our best team efforts from start to finish," said head coach Brooks Donald Willims.
Nicholls also came into the game as the SLC's top free throw shooting and three-point shooting team and with the second best scoring offense and field goal shooting percent but the Cowgirls got the upper hand in all four categories here tonight.
McNeese outscored the Colonels by 15 points, shot 46.4 percent from the field, 50.0 percent from three-point range, 90 percent from the free throw line, compared to Nicholls' 37.2 percent from the field, 35.7 percent from three-point range and 84.2 percent from the free throw line.
"We have been in attack mode on offense the last couple of games and have scored a lot of points in the paint lately," said Williams.
For the second consecutive game, McNeese placed three players
in double figures and were led by Caitlyn Baggett with 19 points.
Baggett was 8 of 11 from the field and 3 of 4 from three-point range and dished out five assists.
"I think Caitlyn is one of the best guards in our league and region. She sets the tempo and makes us go. She takes care of the ball and is one of our best defensive players. She also does the little things that don't show up in the stats," said Williams.
Joining Bagget in double figure scoring was twin sister Caitlyn who ended the game with 17 on a 6 for 18 night from the field, including three three-pointers. Kendra Wells ended the game with 10 with six coming from the free throw line. Martika Hull led the Cowgirls with six rebounds.
Both teams came out in the second half, firing from beyond the three-point line. Nicholls cut the Cowgirl lead to two points
(36-34) with 18:37 left off back-to back treys by LiAnn McArthy.
McArthy led the Colonels in scoring with 16 points.
McNeese countered with two free throws by Wells and back-to- back three's by each Baggett to give McNeese a 10 point lead with
16:33 left in the game. McNeese then went on a 17-7 run to take its largest lead of the game (20 points) with 5:59 left. Nicholls would get as close as 12 points and scored 11their final 13 points from the free throw line.
For the first four minutes of the game, the game went back and fourth and with the Cowgirls leading by six (15-9) with 14:58 left in the half. McNeese continued to hold the lead for the next 10 minutes before Nicholls tied the game 22 all at the 6:53 mark. McNeese went on to outscore the Lady Colonels 14-6 in the final 6:24 left in the half to hold a 36-28.
McNeese will be off until Saturday when they will travel to Central Arkansas for a 2 p.m. game.