LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Lamar’s Davion Buster tied a Southland Conference record with 11 three-point baskets and finished with a career-high 39 points to lead the Cardinals snapped to 96-91 win over McNeese in front of an H&HP Arena record crowd of 4,134 in the annual Battle of the Border matchup.
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak and was the first defeat suffered by the Cowboys since a Jan. 4 loss at Central Arkansas. The Cowboys fall to 12-10 overall and 7-4 in league play. Lamar, who beat the Cowboys for the third straight time, evened its overall record to 11-11 and 5-6 in conference play.
Lamar led the entire game and kept the Cowboys from mounting any kind of rally with 30 fast break points, an abundance of those quick off a McNeese score.
“I give Lamar a lot of credit. They played great,” said McNeese head coach Heath Schroyer. “I’m embarrassed that we gave up 96 points at home, to be honest. But I give them a lot of credit. They played phenomenal. I’ve said all along they have a good team. They had Stephen F. down and they had Sam down. They made big plays.”
McNeese was coming off a thrilling overtime win over Nicholls on Wednesday and was thrown out of sync early when Sha’markus Kennedy and Dru Kuxhausen fell into foul trouble in the first 10 minutes of the game.
“Sham picking up two silly fouls early got us out of rhythm,” said Schroyer. “Our rotation wasn’t very good. We just were out of sync all night and our conversion defense was absolutely atrocious.”
Eight of Lamar’s 14 three-points came immediately off of Cowboy baskets, stalling any kind of momentum shift McNeese needed to get back into the game. And in addition to the 30 fast break points scored, Lamar sank 24 points off of 15 McNeese turnovers.
“You can work on scheming all you want but if you can’t convert and you turn the ball over, it’s going to be a long night.”
Kennedy was limited to just over eight minutes of action in the first half and scored four points with three rebounds. He rallied in the second half and ended with his third straight double-double, ninth of the season, with 19 points and 14 boards.
A.J. Lawson led the Cowboys with 25 points and seven assists while Trey Johnson sank a career-high four three-point baskets to lead him to a career-best 12 points. Kuxhausen was held to one 3-pointer for the game on four attempts.
Lamar led 48-41 at the half but not before McNeese rallied from an early 11-point deficit to cut the margin to 1 at 37-36 following a Myles Hutchinson layup with 2:25 to play.
Buster quickly answered with a three-pointer to start an 8-0 run then drained his eighth three of the first half with 13 seconds to play give the Cardinals a 48-41 lead at the break.
McNeese made a late second half charge after trailing by as many as 16 points and cut the lead to 5 at 87-82 following a Kennedy And-1 play with 2:34 to play. But Buster answered once again with another three to make it a 90-82 game. However the Cowboys came right back with a three-pointer by Sam Baker to cut the margin to 90-85 at the 1:36 mark.
The Cardinals were sent to the line where they made seven of their final eight in under a minute to play to put the game away.
Lamar’s Anderson Kopp finished with 19 points while T.J. Atwood added 17 as the Cardinals shot 51 percent from the field and 44 percent from three-point range.
McNeese hit 47 percent from the field but only made 9 of 23 for 39 percent from long range.
The Cowboys will hit the road for some midweek action on Wednesday when they visit Texas A&M-Corpus Christi then will return home next Saturday at 3 against Central Arkansas.