HAMMOND – KeyShawn Feazell scored 13 of his game-high 22 points in the second half and McNeese held off a late Southeastern Louisiana rally to beat the Lions 95-91 here Wednesday night.
With the new Southland Conference point system being used to determine tournament seeding, the Cowboys are now in eighth place with 11 total points, one point better than HBU who sits in ninth place with 10 points. The Cowboys (9-11, 3-8 SLC) will host the Huskies at 7:30 Saturday night for the first of three remaining games, all that will be played at home.
McNeese stayed playing the ‘big’ game despite SLU (7-14, 5-7) putting five guards on the floor at the same time. Feazell and Carlos Rosario combined to score 41 points, hit 17 of 26 shots, and pull down 19 rebounds.
“Our bigs played really well,” said head coach Heath Schroyer. “Feazell was great Coming out of the half that’s what we emphasized was to get he and Carlos the ball on the block. Both of those guys did a heck of a job. They’re (Lions) a hard matchup for us. A lot of times they put five guards on the floor who can all shoot the 3. We decided to stay big and keep feeding KeyShawn and Carlos.”
McNeese made its final 13 free throws of the game to help keep the Lions at an arm’s length and connected on 24 of 26 for the game.
“If you’re going to win basketball games down the stretch you have to make your free throws,” said Schroyer.
The Cowboys held a 45-34 lead at the half behind 54 percent shooting from the floor including 6 of 10 from three-point range.
With McNeese leading 34-32 with 3:46 to play in the half and the Lions rallying from nine points down, the Cowboys outscored the Lions 11-2 on a run that was started by a Myles Hutchinson three-pointer and ended with his two-pointer with 10 seconds to play.
The Cowboys held onto a multiple possession lead through the first 10 minutes of the half and answered every SLU opportunity at a run, one on a Chris Orlina 3 to turn a 64-58 advantage to a 67-58 lead with 11:57 on the clock and again a couple minutes later when the Lions pulled to within five points at 67-62 only to have Harwin Francois knock down a trey to make it a 70-62 advantage at the 9:36 mark. Francois finished a season-high 14 points.
McNeese held its largest lead at 80-66 following a Feazell second-chance layup, Francois 3, and four straight A.J. Lawson free throws with 6:57 to play. The Lions then scored 12 straight points to close the gap to 80-78 with 3:01 remaining.
Rosario came up big with a basket and free throw to snap the scoreless skid to make it 83-78, then after SLU scored to pull to within three points, Rosario sank a jumper in the paint to put his Pokes back on top by five at the 2:10 mark.
McNeese began to distance itself after an Orlina basket made it an 87-83 game with 1:25 to play, then after the Lions missed on the opposite end, Orlina pulled down the rebound and gave it off to Lawson who was fouled, leading to a couple of made free throws to extend the lead to six points.
Dru Kuxhausen, who finished with 14 points as one of five Cowboys to score in double-digits, connected on all four of his free throws with under 30 seconds to play while Francois hit both of his with 6 seconds remaining to put McNeese up 95-88.
Feazell recorded his league-leading eighth double-double of the season with 11 rebounds to go along with his 22 points while Lawson, who missed the Cowboys’ last game at Northwestern State due to an injured ankle, gutted out a 10-point, 5-assist performance.
McNeese made 51 percent from the field for the game, including 9 of 23 from three-point range while SLU also hit 51 percent and was 11 of 26 from behind the arc. The Cowboys held a 34-27 advantage on the glass.