NATCHITOCHES – The Cowboys revived themselves with a lively performance by sophomore Kalob Ledoux, who finished with a career-high 34 points, hitting seven of eight attempts from the arc. McNeese's 74-62 win over Northwestern State completes the season sweep against the Demons.
"We needed that tonight, every bit of it, and it feels good to get back in the win column and build back some confidence," head coach Dave Simmons is now 11-13 against Northwestern State.
Quatarrius Wilson pulled down 15 rebounds in addition to his 13 points for his eighth double-double of the season. Wilson was the driving force behind a Cowboy squad that outrebounded the Demons 43-34, 25-13 in the first half.
"Kalob had a heck of a performance tonight, he was our go-to guy, we just kept feeding him the ball and we did everything we can to set good screens to get him open and he kept putting it back" Wilson said of his teammate.
McNeese would take an early four-point lead, behind the efforts of Jarren Greenwood and James Harvey who both drained three-pointers in the lead.
Simmons commented on his Cowboy's ability to dominate the court early-on, "We jumped out to an early lead and once we built that seven-point lead, we were able to switch to zone pretty early which kept them from taking easy shots."
Harvey and Greenwood were already off to a better start than Tuesday's loss against Sam Houston State, where the duo finished 2-25 from the field.
"When your top guys like that can hit shots, everyone starts to find their groove, the bench gets up and it's a good rhythm on the court" Simmons said.
The Cowboys went back and forth with the Demons until Northwestern State took their first lead of the game at 13:02 after a 9-2 run against McNeese.
Kalob Ledoux was back to his long-range ways, putting up 11 unanswered points of his own, including three from long range and a lay-up to give the Cowboys a hefty 22-13 lead.
7:42 on the clock and the Cowboys continued to outscore the Demons, running out to 32-19 lead.
Cowboys were looking much improved from the last contest, shooting 48% from the field and 62% from the arc in the final minutes of the first half. Kalob Ledoux alone was 5-6 from three-point territory.
Both teams would fall into a scoring drought, with Northwestern breaking the four-minute drought with a two-jumpers in the paint. McNeese would still hold a 10-point lead at the 2:50 mark.
"They started to attack the glass more and drive the basket and we fell into a little trouble, but with Kalob on fire and Jarren [Greenwood] and James [Harvey] sending him the ball, we were able to stay ahead. When a kid is hot, you keep feeding him the ball and that's what we did" Simmons said.
Kalob Ledoux would end a would-be run by the Demons with a. jumper to end the half. McNeese headed into the locker room with a 35-25 lead.
Northwestern started the second half with a bit more fire than when it left the court at halftime, with a six-point run off of two consecutive foul calls on LaBarrius Hill and Quatarrius Wilson.
A media timeout with 15:54 on the clock would allow the Cowboys to recollect their efforts after allowing the Demons to come within seven of their lead.
The Cowboys would lead 48-42 just before Kalob Ledoux would put up another three-pointer. Brother Jacob would follow with his second dunk of the game to give the Cowboys a nine-point 53-44 lead with nearly half way through the second half.
McNeese would fight an aggressive Northwestern State team in the final minutes, as the Demons were able to cut the Cowboys lead to only five, matching each basket the Cowboys put up with one of their own.
As the two-minute warning approached, the Cowboys held a 71-62 lead and with Northwestern State's leading scoring Ishmael Lane off the court due to fouls, McNeese was ready to close out the win.
McNeese takes the series lead 64-63 and advances to 8-12 on the season, 5-5 in Southland Conference play. The Cowboys get back to Burton next week, when they host Stephen F Austin on February 8.