LAKE CHARLES – It's been three weeks since the McNeese State Cowboys and Cowgirls basketball teams have competed in Lake Charles but a return to the home floor comes at a perfect time as both teams are looking to lock up a spot in next month's Southland Conference Tournament.
The teams will host Incarnate Word in a Southland doubleheader beginning at 5:30 at Burton Coliseum.
The Cowgirls (15-9, 8-6 SLC) are currently in fifth place in the conference standings and could wrap up a spot in the tournament with a win and if a few teams below the Cowgirls lose.
The Cowboys (8-18, 6-8) are tied with Southeastern Louisiana for the seventh and eighth spot at the tournament and could make a push for fourth should they string together some wins and get some help as well. They can lock up a spot in the tournament with a win and a Central Arkansas loss.
Leading the Cowboys into Thursday's game is senior guard Ledrick Eackles who has scored 20 or more points in five of his last seven games and leads the team while ranking sixth in the conference with 16.5 points per game. Eackles dropped 23 against Nicholls in last Saturday's loss.
The Cowboys have lost four of their last five games, all on the road, but are 5-3 at home this season, including a 4-1 mark in Burton Coliseum.
Incarnate Word will come to Lake Charles sporting a 19-5 overall record and 7-4 in league play. The Cardinals are fourth in the overall standings but are not eligible for postseason play due to their transition period from Division II to Division I. UIW has won three straight games but has dropped three of its last four on the road.
On the women's side, sophomore guard Allison Baggett tops the team and is ranked tied for second in the conference with a 17.6 scoring average. She scored 13 points in a loss at Nicholls last Saturday.
The Cowgirls have won four of their last six games and are 9-3 at home this season and are 8-1 in Burton.
UIW is 8-16 overall and 2-9 in the conference and has lost eight straight games.
This will be the first-ever meeting between McNeese and Incarnate Word in men's and women's action.