By McNeese SID Matthew Bonnette:
LAKE CHARLES – The Lake Charles Civic Center was McNeese State's basketball home throughout the 1970s and early 1980s and after moving into Burton Coliseum in 1986, the arena played host to 2-3 games a year.
That venue will again be called home for the squads for the next three games, beginning Tuesday when McNeese hosts Nicholls in a Southland Conference doubleheader.
The Cowgirls will tip things off at 5:30 in a game that will feature the league's top two scorers in Nicholls' Emani White (18.5 ppg) and McNeese's Allison Baggett (18.2). The men's contest, which will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet Houston, will carry an 8:05 start. The game will also be streamed live at no cost on csnhouston.com.
Season ticket holders that have not picked up their tickets for the games played at the civic center will be able to pick them up at the arena beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Cowgirls (11-6, 4-2 SLC) are coming off a hard-fought, 66-62 win over Houston Baptist. McNeese led for a good part of the game, a contest that featured five lead changes and six ties. HBU took a 1-point lead with five minutes to play, and after the teams were tied at 59-59 with 1:43 to go, Cecilia Okoye knocked down a jumper to put the Cowgirls up for good.
Okoye finished the game with 18points and a team-high eight rebounds while Baggett led the squad with 23 points, marking the seventh 20-point scoring game of the season for the sophomore.
Nicholls will enter the game 8-9 overall and 3-3 in conference play. The Colonels defeated A&M-Corpus Christi by a 67-60 score on Saturday.
On the men's side, both McNeese State (6-12 overall) and Nicholls (7-8) will carry in identical 4-2 conference records with the winner being tied atop the league with five conference victories.
The Cowboys defeated Houston Baptist 70-68 on Saturday in one of the most exciting finishes in quite some time when Kevin Hardy dribbled the ball down the middle of the lane and dunked over three Huskies' players with seven seconds remaining to get the win.
Hardy finished the game with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Ledrick Eackles couldn't be stopped in the first half as he knocked down 6 of 7 shots from three-point range and finished the game with 20 points, his fourth 20-point scoring game of the season.
Eackles leads the team in scoring at 15.2 per game and is chipping in 17.2 points in six conference games.
Since starting league play, the Cowboys have done a better job of taking care of the ball. McNeese ranks second in the league with a plus-2.7 mark in turnover margin, second in assist/turnover ratio at 1.3, and is averaging 34.5 rebounds per game.
The Cowboys are 10th in the league in scoring in conference games only with a 72.8 average but is second in field goal defense (41.4 percent) and third in scoring defense (69.8 points).
Nicholls is coming off a 70-67 loss to A&M-Corpus Christi, two days after beating Houston Baptist 66-64. The Colonels have won four of their last six games and are 2-7 away from home this season.
Senior Dantrell Thomas paces the team in scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (4.9). The Colonels are averaging just 30.8 rebounds a game.
McNeese took two out of three from Nicholls last season, falling 64-63 in Burton Coliseum before getting payback on the Colonels' floor by way of a 91-88 double-overtime win. The Cowboys knocked Nicholls out of the conference tournament with a 62-59 win in the first round.