DURHAM, North Carolina – The McNeese men's basketball team falls to 2-6 on the season after a thrilling comeback falls short at North Carolina Central University on Thursday night. The Cowboys lost in the final minutes, 77-71.
McNeese struggled in the first half. Down by 10 points at halftime, the Cowboys were relying on free throws to keep them in the game.
"We came in and missed some big defensive plays in the first half, we gave Brandon Goldsmith 16 points in the first half and missed some important defensive rebounds that could have kept us from the ten-point deficit at the half" head coach Dave Simmons said.
McNeese was shooting only 35.7% from the field and 30.8% from beyond the arc headed into the locker room after the first 20 minutes.
"The second half was much better, we held Goldsmith to three points and no field goals. We shot better from the field, 14-34. We got good play from Jacob Ledoux and big blocks from LaBarrius Hill, who helped us turn the second half around" Simmons said.
Quatarrius Wilson was back in his groove tonight; after the tough loss at UNT last week, Wilson grabbed 11 rebounds in the loss. He has now led the Cowboys in five of eight games this season.
The Cowboys forced 11 Eagle turnovers and were able to capitalize off of NCCU's miscues, gaining 13 points from the repossessions. McNeese, on the other hand, had only eight turnovers- a season low for the Cowboys.
Stephen Ugochukwu pulled down six rebounds and hit five of nine attempts from the field and three of four from the free-throw line for a total of 13 points. Tonight's stats mark Ugochukwu's fourth consecutive double-digit performance.
James Harvey is making his way up the all-time three pointer career list, surpassing ninth place with his three against NCCU. Harvey achieved a season high 16 points in the loss, and was one of four Cowboys to score ten or more points.
The Cowboys racked up 40 rebounds in the game, dominating the offensive glass (18-11). For the second game this season, McNeese would out-rebound its opponent in a loss- the first occurrence happened in the 89-78 loss at UL-Lafayette.
Jarren Greenwood added four more perfect free-throws to his record. Greenwood is now shooting .923 from the free-throw line, the best amongst all Cowboys and all other Southland Conference teams.
"I think it's obvious we played a much better game than we did last week, but we're still struggling to finish out the contest and complete the game, that's what we'll be working on for Pittsburgh" Simmons said.
McNeese will load the buses and head even further north when they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday in Pittsburgh. Tip-off is slated for 1PM (CT). Saturday's game will be available on the ACC Network TV.