Cowboys open Southland Tip-Off play with double-overtime win over UNO
KATY, Texas - McNeese hoops proved it belongs to be mentioned when discussing teams that will make a run for this year’s Southland Conference championship when on Thursday the Cowboys defeated New Orleans 92-82 in double-overtime in the first round of the Southland Tip-Off Event.
The win was the second straight for the Cowboys as they improve to 5-9. UNO fell to 4-8 overall. The game will not count in the league standings.
McNeese freshman transfer Christian Shumate tied a career-high with 21 points and added 13 rebounds after connecting on 9 of 13 from the field. Shumate came up with big plays in both the OT and double OT periods to help lead the Cowboys to the win over the Privateers who were picked for a second-place finish in the preseason poll.
“I was really proud of our ability to handle a lot of adversity from losing KT (Kellon Taylor) with two technical fouls, then we lost (Brendan) Medley-Bacon and Collin (Warren) to fouls,” said head coach Johns Aiken. “It was an unbelievable, gutty win for us.”
McNeese led 42-31 at the half behind six three-pointers and 43 percent shooting but UNO chipped away at the lead to start the second half after Taylor fouled out with 12:50 to play and Medley-Bacon and Warren had to sit by being in foul trouble.
The Cowboys kept an arm’s length lead until UNO tied the game at 52-52 with 8:53 to play but McNeese built the lead back up to a five-point advantage following a 5-0 run behind five Medley-Bacon points, three from the free throw line.
Myles Lewis, who finished with 19 points and 17 of those in the second half and overtimes, put the Cowboys up 65-59 with 3:57 to go in regulation. UNO tied the game at 71-71 following a Derek St. Hilarie layup with 32 seconds to play and McNeese’s Zach Scott’s jumper in the paint with two seconds to play fell off the mark to send the game to overtime.
“We delivered the first punch,” said Aiken. “We were the aggressor but we knew they were going to come out and play harder (in the second half). For us to manage their run without our leader (KT) and guys in foul trouble, that says a lot about our team.”
UNO appeared to be on its way to a win in the first overtime after Shumate missed two free throws with 20 seconds to play. But UNO’s Troy Green missed 1 of 2 on the opposite end as the Privateers led 79-77 with 16 seconds left. After his miss on the second attempt, Lewis drew a foul after going for a rebound and sank both of his free throws to tie the game with 14 seconds remaining.
Shumate got his revenge on the Privateers’ final possession when he blocked Green’s game-winning attempt, sending the game to the second OT.
McNeese dominated the extra time, outscoring UNO 13-3. The Cowboys scored the first six points in the OT period, Lewis with two driving layups and Shumate a jumper on free throw line.
Shumate sealed the win with a monster dunk off a pass from Lewis with just under a minute to play.
“He’s special,” said Aiken of Shumate. “A special talent and special kid. When he’s not in the game, he’s always the best guy on the bench. In the game, he does things that other players can’t do. He and Lewis had some big-time plays late.
“Christian told me as we were leaving the floor, ‘this is the exact type of win we deserve to get’. It meant a lot to our guys. We knew it was going to be tough. If we don’t fold and keep fighting, we’re going to be a really good team.
“It’s just one game and we have to play Southeastern next but it’s great to beat a team like New Orleans. It says a lot about the kind of team we have.”
Taylor added 12 points for the Cowboys while playing just 18 minutes and Warren scored 10. Lewis joined Shumate in the double-double department with 12 boards to go along with his 19 points.
McNeese dominated the glass with a 55-46 advantage including a 21-7 win on the offensive boards.
As a team, the Cowboys shot 41 percent from the field (31 for 76) and was 6 of 19 from long range (32 percent). McNeese was 8 of 16 for 50 percent shooting in both overtime periods.
St. Hilaire led UNO with 17 points. The Privateers shot 42 percent for the game (25 of 59), and 13 percent from long range (1 of 8).
McNeese now moves on in the winner’s bracket and will play Southeastern (90-81 winner over HBU) at 5 p.m. on Friday.
• McNeese is now 39-36 all-time in overtime games and 5-4 when going to double-OT.
• The last double OT win came in the 1982-83 season when the Cowboys defeated ULM 112-101.
• Myles Lewis has recorded a double-double in two straight games.
• Christian Shumate has scored 20 points or more in each of the last two contests.
• The Cowboys snapped a 2-game losing streak to the Privateers. Prior to Thursday’s game, UNO had won 8 of the last 9 meetings in the series.
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