Second half slump dumps Cowboys on road at SLU, 62-53

By McNeese SID Matthew Bonnette:

HAMMOND – McNeese State appeared to have the game well in hand midway through the second half against Southeastern Louisiana, but after leading by five points and with the ball with nine minutes to play, SLU outscored the Cowboys by a 21-7 margin the rest of the way to down the Cowboys 62-53 in Southland Conference action on Thursday night.

The loss was the third straight suffered by the Cowboys in the midst of their five-game road trip and they fall to 7-17 overall and 5-7 in the league.  SLU, which avenged an early season 69-60 loss to the Cowboys in Lake Charles, improved to 10-13 and are now tied with McNeese in the league standings at 5-7.

Ledrick Eackles led McNeese with 15 points while Craig McFerrin and Keelan Garrett each scored 13.  Julian Chiera scored 13 points to lead SLU.  He scored 11 of those in the first eight minutes of the game.

The two teams battled to a 25-25 tie at the half and McNeese opened the second half on a 7-2 run behind a couple of free throws by McFerrin and a three-pointer by Eackles.  McNeese maintained that lead for the next 12 minutes until SLU retook the lead for good after a Devonte Upson jumper made it 48-47 with 6:16 to play.

Three straight turnovers committed by McNeese led to points for the Lions and allowed them to get back into the game.

"I think that was the key to the game right there," said head coach Dave Simmons.  "We had a five point lead with the ball then we turn it over three straight times and they get points off of them."

SLU connected on its final six free throws when it mattered to put the game out of reach.  McNeese was held to two field goals in the final eight minutes of the game.

McNeese made just 35.7 percent from the field (20 of 56) and was 6 of 25 for 24 percent from three-point range.  SLU knocked down 21 of 47 for 44.7 percent and was 7 of 20 for 35 percent from long range.  The Lions hit 13 of 24 from the free throw line while McNeese connected on 7 of 11.

SLU held a 37-35 edge on the boards and scored 13 points off of 12 McNeese State turnovers.

The Cowboys, who have not won in Hammond since 2005, will remain on the road for the fourth straight game when they visit New Orleans at 4:15 on Sunday.