LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - After its one-point loss to North Carolina Central on December 1, McNeese had December 13 circled on the calendar as it would give the Pokes a shot at redemption. Thursday night, the Cowboys got the best of the Eagles the second time around to pick up their first Division I win of the season. It also marked the first Division I opponent for the Cowboys in their new arena.
“I’ve said all along that this group just needs to have a breakthrough and learn how to win," said Cowboy coach Heath Schroyer. "As we build this team and build this program, winning games like this is important. You have to, at some point, breakthrough.”
All season long, McNeese has relied on the play of their frontcourt. Players like Malik Hines and Shamarkus Kennedy have been forces in the paint on both ends of the floor. But vs. NCCU, it was James Harvey that provided the second-half spark. Harvey came off the bench and led the team with 19 points and made a couple threes to help put the game out of reach.
“I think we just got into a rhythm especially after we went 1-3-1 and the momentum shifted," said Harvey of McNeese’s defensive adjustments. "We started getting stops, started pushing the break and everybody just got into a good rhythm including me. Shots just started falling.”
And as those shots fell, the crowd got louder. The energy from the fans is something the team felt led to the win.
“I’m very thankful for the crowd. They really don’t have to come out here and just having support from a good fan base it means a lot to us," said forward Roydell Brown. "[The crowd] really gives us motivation and just to see them getting excited just like we do is really big.”
The Pokes have a quick turnaround as they’ll head to Kansas City to play UMKC Saturday and then they’ll be back home Tuesday in a nationally televised game against UL Lafayette.