Senior LaBarrius Hill would pull down an offensive rebound, send it back out to Jarren Greenwood, who would pass to Kalob Ledoux, eventually sending it in for a long three, giving the McNeese Cowboys the leverage needed to put Central Arkansas away 76-72 in Conway on Wednesday night.
Head coach Dave Simmons was able to prepare his Cowboys for tonight's predicted shootout, "We talked before about games you just have to win, tonight was one of them- we came in, in a must-win situation and we did what we had to do to make that happen."
Cowboys advance to 8-15 in the season, 6-7 in Southland Conference play. McNeese has now won its last two on the road after starting the season 0-9 on the road.
McNeese led the entire game, building as much as an 18-point lead, coming after a layup by sophomore Jacob Ledoux mid-way through the second half.
The first half weighed heavily in favor of the Cowboys, who were able to outscore the Bears 43-28. A team that is usually fire from long-range, UCA only completed one of 13 attempts from the arc in the first 20 minutes (7.7%).
Overall, Central Arkansas made only 17.9% of its shots from three-point territory, a season low for the Bears, who lead the league in 3-point field goal percentage.
"We knew coming into tonight's match that it would be a challenge to defend all their three-point attempts, but we needed to limit their long shots in order to win. We knew it would be a shootout, and I told the team, whoever plays the better defense is going to win the game- and tonight, that was us" said Simmons.
UCA's Jordan Howard entered the contest ranking 3rd in the nation for scoring, averaging 25.8 points per game, and the Cowboys held him to only 14 points, giving up only six baskets in Howard 19 field goal attempts.
At the peak of its lead, McNeese fell into a scoring drought, as UCA went put up 11 unanswered points, in a stretch of game that lasted eight minutes, the Bears outscore the Cowboys 25-8.
"They switched to a zone defense and it sort of deconstructed our offense, but we were able to adapt and get back on the board" Simmons said.
With only three minutes left on the clock, Kalob Ledoux and Greenwood added three more baskets to give McNeese the security it needed to close out the win.
Four Cowboys finished in the double-digits tonight, led by James Harvey who finished the night with 17 points, going four for six from the arc. Behind Harvey was KalobLedoux with 16, Qutarrius Wilson with 12, and Greenwood with 10.
Wilson pulled down one rebound short of his career high, with 16 boards. His aggressiveness on the glass helped McNeese outrebound UCA 46 to 44 in the contest.
Together with his 16 rebounds and 12 points, Wilson earned his 11th double-double on the season.
Greenwood finished with a career-high nine assists, beating his previous high of eight, that he earned versus SFA last week. Greenwood was only one assist shy of a double-double.
McNeese gave the ball over only eight times in the victory, a record low for Central Arkansas' opponents.
The Cowboys only made seven free-throw baskets, a low for UCA opponents as well, but they weren't needed, as McNeese shot no less than 46% from the field the entire night.
Fans can catch McNeese at the University of New Orleans on Saturday at 4 p.m. Links to live stats, video, and audio will be available at McNeeseSports.com.
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