NEW ORLEANS – The McNeese Cowboys are doing their best to keep the tournament hopes alive, but their efforts fell short tonight in a 90-76 loss at New Orleans.
The Cowboys were forced to make do without shining sophomore guard Kalob Ledoux, who was out due to a foot injury. Ledoux is averaging over 15 points per game, which could very well have been a deciding factor in today's loss.
Transfer Quatarrius Wilson continued to be a dominating force for McNeese, pulling down a game high 16 rebounds. His rebounds, in conjunction with his 13 points earns Wilson his 12th double-double of the season, a league best.
There were three other Cowboys who walked away in double-digits today, sophomore Jacob Ledoux had a team best 15 points, while James Harvey and Stephen Ugochukwu each followed with 10.
The two teams met earlier this year in Lake Charles, where UNO defeated McNeese in overtime, 82-75. The Privateers were directed by Bryson Robinson who put in a season high 31 points against the Cowboys.
Tonight, McNeese did what they could to keep Robinson at bay, but New Orleans diverse shooting abilities allowed them to switch the focus to forward Makur Puou, who finished with 23 points on nine baskets, going 5-5 from long range.
McNeese, a team that usually controls the arc, both on offense and defense, was just under par tonight. The team shot 32% from three-point territory, with Ledoux out of commission, the Cowboys were expected to suffer from long-rage.
McNeese has won only one game this season in which they shot below 40% from the arc, mid-December's 84-68 win over Texas College, a landmark of a time before the Cowboys organized their shooting attempts and became one of the best in the Southland at the trey.
Sparked by a three-pointer by junior James Harvey, the Cowboys were able to build a nine-point lead only 14:29 into the game.
They completed an 8-1 run before New Orleans rallied back and tied the score at 23s with 5:35 on the clock in the first half.
At halftime, McNeese trailed by only one; senior Stephen Ugochukwu seemed to be the only Cowboy with consistent success, sinking eight points and shooting 75% from the field.
After the break, the Privateers adapted, putting heavy coverage on Ugochukwu, putting Wilson in charge of controlling the paint.
Wilson scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half and earned seven rebounds, five of which came off the offensive glass.
Head coach Dave Simmons saw some good minutes out of his Cowboy reserves today, including Richard Laku and Kelvin Henry Jr.
Laku earned his first career start as a Cowboy, finishing with a career-high 19 points. Laku scored six points, earned two assists, and pulled in a defensive rebound in his time on the court.
Henry may have played only five minutes, but the redshirt-freshman out of Lake Charles contributed a career high seven points, making both field goal attempts and nailing three of his four free-throws.
Again, the Cowboys came out on top in the rebound column, outrebounding the Privateers 43-40. In fact, Wilson's nine offensive rebounds matched the total offensive rebound count for UNO.
McNeese still has its eye on the prize and another trip to Katy for the Southland Tournament. The Cowboys will head back to Lake Charles for a mid-week match up against Nicholls on Wednesday.