LAKE CHARLES, LA - McNeese women’s basketball let a 14-point third quarter lead slip and costly turnovers late in the game proved to be the deciding factor in a 68-66 Southland Conference opening loss to Incarnate Word here Wednesday night.
McNeese (2-10, 0-1 SLC) turned the ball over 27 times in the game including two with less than a minute left in the game. The Cowgirls weren’t able to capitalize on its last five offensive possessions of the game that included a missed jumper, two missed layups and two turnovers following a layup by Divine Tanks that tied the game at 66 all with 1:42 left to play.
“Some crucial turnovers in crucial moments allowed them to come back and win the game,” said head coach Kacie Cryer. “Obviously this is a tough loss for us because this is a loss at home and we want to protect our home court, but you have to credit UIW- they stayed with it and hit some shots when they needed to.
“On the flip side, we made some plays that we haven’t made all year long and that is very encouraging and positive for this team. It’s a loss but we have to continue to move forward.”
UIW (1-11, 1-0 SLC) scored the game’s first eight points before Bre’Ashlee Jones’ two free throws put McNeese on the board. The Cardinals continued to build on their lead in the early part of the second quarter until the Cowgirls tied the game at 19 apiece midway through the second period.
Another run by UIW upped their lead back to six points (26-20) with 4:44 left in the second quarter. A jumper by Tanks sparked a 14-4 Cowgirls run as McNeese heading into the locker room with a 34-30 halftime lead.
The Cowgirls opened up the third period by scoring the first six points to take its largest lead of the game (44-30) and headed into the fourth quarter with a 58-49 lead.
UIW chipped away at the lead and eventually tied the game at 64 all with 2:33 left. After the Cardinals took a brief lead, McNeese tied the game at 66 on Tanks’ layup with 1:42 to play but UIW would go on to score the last two points of the game on one free throw by Starr Omozee and one by Kara Speer.
“We don’t have time to look back, we have got to move onto Northwestern State and not look back,” Cryer said.
McNeese ended the game with four players in double figures including two with double-doubles.
Tanks and junior Damilola ended the game with double-doubles. Tanks tied her career high with 13 points and added 11 rebounds. Balogun scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, both are career highs for her. Jones led all players in scoring with 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Callie Maddox added 13 points along with six rebounds.
UIW had three players score in double figures with Angelica Wiggins leading the way with a double-double (16 points, 11 rebs.). Lunden Henry had 14 and Imani Robinson pitched in with 13.
McNeese will begin a four-game road swing that will begin with a 1 p.m. game at Northwestern State this Saturday. The next Cowgirl home game will be on Jan. 19 against Southeastern La.