Cowboys open conference with win over SLU

McNeese Southland Opener

By McNeese SID Matthew Bonnette

LAKE CHARLES – Not even the flu could hold back Kevin Hardy in McNeese State's first home game in 47 days.

Hardy led McNeese with 17 points, seven assists, nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals. He electrified the crowd Thursday night with a one-handed dunk over two Southeastern Louisiana players late in the second half. The Cowboys snapped a seven-game losing streak by beating the Lions 69-60 in the Southland Conference opener for both teams.

Hardy finished the night 6-of-7 from the field, 5-for-5 at the free throw line.

"He had a tremendous game," said head coach Dave Simmons. "He's out here playing with the flu and playing like that.  I've got a little case of the flu too.  Maybe I'll cough on him for Saturday's game if he starts to feel better."

Ledrick Eackles added 15 points and Desharick Guidry scored 12 as McNeese improved to 3-10.

Dre Evans led SLU (5-7) with 19 points followed by Julian Chiera with 14 and Joshua Filmore with 11.

The two teams played to a 29-29 tie at the half but not before McNeese outscored the Lions 17-6 over the final 7:56 of the half after falling behind 23-12 following a jumper by Onochie Ochie.

The Cowboys scored the first five points of the second half behind a 3-pointer from Guidry and a Hardy jumper.  SLU got as close to one point several times but never took the lead.

JaMichael Hawkins hit a 3-pointer with 11:15 to play to cut the Cowboys' lead to 46-45 but Brandon Regis, who came off the bench to score six points in eight minutes of action, responded with a trey to jump start a 10-1 Cowboys run.

"It's really nice to get a win," Simmons said. "I think the tough scheduled we've played so far has helped get us ready for these types of games. We've always had our problems with Southeastern. They're a really good team. This is a great win for us."

McNeese had one of its better nights shooting in the last few games by hitting 23 of 57 for 40.4 percent including a 12 of 25 showing for 48 percent in the second half.  The Cowboys also knocked down 17 of 19 free throws and held a 40-30 advantage on the boards.

SLU connected on 21 of 52 from the floor, also for 40.4 percent and was 9 of 24 from 3-point range for 37.5 percent.  The Lions hit 9 of 13 from the charity stripe.

McFerrin led McNeese on the glass with 11 rebounds and came one point short of recording a double-double.

The Cowboys will be back in action at 3 p.m. Saturday when they host conference newcomer New Orleans in Burton Coliseum.