LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Four Cowboys walked off the court tonight with double-digit scores, as they led the McNeese men's basketball team to an 85-62 victory over University of the Incarnate Word, in the first conference game of the 2017-18 season.
Transfer Quatarrius Wilson said, "Fueled by anger, we come out here and play hard. Play hard for everyone, our teammates, our coaches, the fans. We came out here today to show everyone that doubted us, everyone that had us finishing last in the Southland Conference…..we're here"
The game started quite slowly for both teams, the score would be 3-2 in favor of McNeese with three minutes burned away on the clock.
"First thing first, we came to defend our home court. Every win just helps grow our confidence and puts us in a better place to put this game behind us a prepare for the game ahead," head coach Dave Simmons said.
"This was particularly a good game for us, I am extremely happy with our rebounds but I can do without allowing so much penetration of the basket. We handled UIW's transitions well and held them to only two shots beyond the arc in each half, despite taking over twenty shots."
At the 16:42 mark, the Cowboys began to pull away. McNeese would slowly inch its way towards the halftime mark, allowing UIW to earn back-to-back baskets only once in the first half.
In the first half, McNeese was shooting 43% from the field. James Harvey paved the way for the Cowboys, draining seven of his nine shot attempts. With Harvey's help, the Cowboys held a 44-26 lead over the Cardinals at halftime.
"We talked about all our home games this year, and it means even more to get our first division I win of the season on our home court," Harvey said.
The second half began with three consecutive turnovers for McNeese. Thankfully, UIW was only able to capitalize off the miscues with one basket before the Cowboys began to rally, with a three-pointer by Kalob Ledoux, McNeese had built their lead to 21 points with 15 minutes to play.
"We missed a few play calls as we began the first half and even though we had the play, to be a good team- you have to execute every play, you can't take off plays, you can't miss assignments. Every possession matters, every play matters." Simmons said.
The road would only get smoother for McNeese, as its shooting efficiency would increase to an impressive 56% in the second half.
"We were able to get a lot of open shots off of offensive rebounds from Quatarrius and Stephen, as well as our set plays, which let us really focus on the game and the shots began to fall," Harvey added.
McNeese continued to show its power on the glass, outrebounding UIW 47-34, Wilson and Stephen Ugochukwu earning 10 a piece. The Cowboys have now outrebounded seven of their eleven opponents.
"This is a big win for us, but now it's time to push forward to Saturday. When we focus on rebounding and playing a sound defense as a team, we come out with the win" Wilson said.
Wilson was one of the four Cowboys with double-digit points, earning him his third straight double-double, and his fourth this season. Wilson's twenty points is good for his highest scoring game in the blue and yellow.
Jarren Greenwood maintains his title as best free-throw shooter amongst the Cowboys, hitting seven of his eight free-throws advances his free-throw efficiency to to .860 on the season.
"Doing well at the line is important to our confidence and helps us keep our confidence up, there is still room to get better and we should never be satisfied, but it's definitely helpful to do so well at the line" Wilson added.
"We're getting good minutes from everyone, LaBarrius Hill, AJ Brown, and Stephen helped us tremendously on the defensive front. Six blocks and ten rebounds is all you can ask for from a player like Stephen," Simmons closed.
Next up for McNeese is Northwestern St, who most recently fell at Nicholls 46-87. The Demons and Cowboys will face each other on Saturday (Dec. 30) at 3:30PM in Burton Coliseum.