ABILENE – Outscored 15-2 in the final four minutes and giving up a lead lasting 37 minutes, the McNeese men's basketball team lost to Abilene Christian onWednesday, 79-74.
The Cowboys would lead by as many as 13 in the second half, but went only 1-7 in the final five and a half minutes, allowing the Wildcats to catch-up and regain control of the ball game.
McNeese would get out in front of ACU pretty quickly in the first half, first taking the lead at the 16:46 mark with a three-pointer from junior Jarren Greenwood.
The Cowboys would build a seven-point lead twice in the first ten minutes, but the Wildcats would quickly respond cutting the lead to as low as two. ACU's defense would force McNeese into a 2:40 scoring drought.
"We missed baskets we needed, and gave them easy scoring opportunities. We made several mistakes, basically handing them bad turnovers," head coach Dave Simmons had little to say after the loss.
McNeese would only lead 21-19 until James Harvey would do as he does, scoring a three-pointer with 8:27 left in the first half.
Harvey would end the game going five for ten, sinking two of his three three-point attempts.
The Cowboys would return the defensive pressure, keeping the Wildcats from scoring any shots from the field for the next four minutes.
Stephen Ugochukwu would get a jumper at the 2:41 mark, putting McNeese ahead of ACU by eight points, its largest lead of the night so far.
In the remaining first half minutes, Greenwood would add seven more points to the board for the Cowboys, leading them to their 42-30 lead, headed into the locker room at the half.
After one half of play, McNeese would out shoot ACU, scoring nearly 52% of its shots from the field (17-33) and 50% of those from beyond the arc (4-8).
The Cowboys stuck to what they know against the Wildcats, and that's aggressive rebounding. Headed into the second half, McNeese had outrebounded ACU 23-16, with the Cowboys allowing only one offensive rebound over the first twenty minutes.
Abilene Christian would cut the lead to single digit for the first time in the second half, earning eight unanswered points. McNeese would lead by five, 51-46 with 13:18 on the clock.
The Cowboys would go 0-5 and give up three turnovers to go nearly four minutes scoreless if not for a foul on James Harvey who added two to the board from the free throw line.
ACU's Friday hits his first three-pointer of the game at the 10:49 mark, giving the Cowboys only a two-point cushion to work with.
Demarco Owens catches the foul and goes 2-2 at the line, McNeese would lead 55-51 with just over ten minutes remaining to play.
McNeese gave a not so impressive performance from the free throw line, making 12 of the teams 19 attempts. The .632 shooting percentage is the fourth lowest this season for McNeese.
With seven minutes to play, McNeese built another nine-point lead with two jumpers from Kalob Ledoux and back-to-back long shots from Harvey.
In the final minutes, the Cowboys once again are unable to make quality shots, missing too many scoring opportunities, giving the Wildcats their first lead of the night and the only lead it would need to win the game.
Only 27 seconds remained on the clock.
A final technical foul by McNeese would give ACU another trip to the line, leading to a 79-74 defeat by the Cowboys.
"We were in the driver's seat the majority of the match, but late in the game, we made some bad decisions. It's time to regroup and get this one behind us," Simmons said.
Four Cowboys finished the game with double-digit scores, including James Harvey (16), Jarren Greenwood (16), Kalob Ledoux (15), and Stephen Ugochukwu (12).
Rebounding power Wilson would have his lowest performance of the season, fouling out towards the end of the game with only four points and seven rebounds.
McNeese once again, outrebounded its opponent tonight, pulling down 37 rebounds to ACU's 34. The Cowboys have now lost three games in which they outrebounded their opponent.
The Cowboys fall to 5-8 overall, 0-8 on the road and 2-1 in Southland Conference play. The Wildcats have now claimed the last three meetings in the series between McNeese and ACU.
McNeese will return to Lake Charles on Saturday, to face New Orleans in a double-header at Burton. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. pending the finish of the women's game at 1 p.m.