HAMMOND, La. (KPLC) - McNeese’s Sha’markus Kennedy continued to make his claim for Southland Conference player of the year when on Wednesday night, led the Cowboys to their fifth straight win after scoring 26 points on 11 of 13 shooting in a 77-61 win over Southeastern Louisiana.
The victory was also the third straight on the road for McNeese (10-9 overall, 5-3 SLC) while the five-game streak is the longest since winning five-in-a-row late in the 2014-15 season.
Kennedy was one of three Cowboys to score in double-digits – Dru Kuxhausen added 19 points on 5 of 7 shooting from three-point range while A.J. Lawson added 14 points.
The Cowboys connected on 26 of 49 from the field for the game (53.1 percent) while hitting 7 of 17 from long range and 18 of 21 at the free throw line.
SLU (6-12, 2-6) made just 37 percent from the floor (22 of 60) and was led in scoring by Maxwell Starwood’s 17 points.
McNeese led 31-24 at the half in large part to a 20-2 run over an 11:04 span after falling behind 18-11 with 12:14 to play in the half. During the run, which started with a 12-0 spurt, McNeese hit 9 of 14 from the floor and forced the Lions into 11 turnovers during the stretch and scored 10 points off those miscues. At one point, the Cowboys forced the Lions into a turnover on four straight possessions.
“I think Southeastern came out and really applied a lot of pressure. They were playing well and hard at home. We buckled down and got some stops and really the difference in the game, our defense locked in in the first 8-10 minutes,” said head coach Heath Schroyer.
“This is a great win. Any league win is hard and a road win is really, really hard. We’re fortunate to get out of here with a win. We’ll enjoy it tonight then get to work on an HBU team that’s really fast in tempo and leads the nation in possessions.”
Kennedy began the second half like the did to start the game, with a Sham Slam to put the Cowboys up by 9 then a Kuxhausen 3 gave McNeese its first double-digit lead at 36-26 with 18:35 to play.
A 10-0 run by the Cowboys extended the lead to 49-30 at the 15:17 mark then after SLU scored four straight points to close to within 49-34, Lawson jump started a 12-3 run with four made free throws followed by a Sam Baker 3, a Kennedy jumper and a Kuxhausen trey to make it a 61-37 lead with 10:57 remaining.
SLU never got any closer than 19 points the rest of the way until the final 30 seconds of the game.
“This is the second game we were able to get stops and get out in transition and play the way we play,” said Schroyer. “It’s a whole team effort. The guys are starting to gel and really understand what it is we’re trying to accomplish. They’re able to absorb the scouting report and make the adjustments when we need it.”
McNeese will return home on Saturday to open up a three-game home stand when it hosts HBU in the second half of a double-header that gets underway with a women’s game at 1 p.m.
• Kuxhausen’s five 3-pointers gives him 83 on the season and moving him into the No. 8 spot on the McNeese single-season record book.
• McNeese outscored SLU 36-12 in the paint.
• The Cowboys connected on 19 of 27 shots in the paint including 12 of 15 in the second half.
• 5-0 with the starting lineup of Myles Hutchinson, A.J. Lawson, Dru Kuxhausen, Roydell Brown, Sha’markus Kennedy.
• Win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Lions.
• McNeese is now 8-3 since Dec. 1 and has won three straight road games since losing its first seven.
• The Cowboys lead the overall series 65-50.