LU rally not enough to beat McNeese State
BEAUMONT – Redshirt freshman Rhon Mitchell led everyone with 18 points Saturday evening at the Montagne Center, but the Lamar University rally came up short as McNeese State was able to hang on for a 69-62 Southland Conference basketball victory.
The Cardinals trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, and by 16 with just under 14 minutes to play in the game, before coming all the way back. A Mitchell jumper with 3:20 on the clock completed a 24-8 LU run that tied the game at 58.
Desharick Guidry hit a pair of free throws to give the Cowboys (10-13 overall, 4-9 in the Southland) a 60-58 lead with 2:54 to play, only to see Hondo Webb’s tip-in tie the game again just 30 seconds later. Kevin Hardy put back his own miss with 1:51 left to give the Cowboys the lead for good at 62-60.
Hardy’s bucket began a 9-0 McNeese run over the final two minutes to give the Cowboys a sweep of the season series. Lamar’s final bucket came with two seconds to play as Donley Minor put in a layup to close the scoring for the night.
“There were a lot of positives tonight, but it’s still a loss,” said LU head coach Pat Knight. “We still have a long ways to go. They did a good job of driving to the goal and drawing fouls or hitting big shots when they needed to. They hit shots we couldn’t hit at the other end.
“You can’t take away everything. The bottom line is we didn’t make plays toward the end and they did. They hit tough shots and we turned it over. Then we miss an open shot in the lane and they come down and convert. We’ve just got to make plays.”
Lamar shot a solid 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) from the floor in the second half after shooting just 7-of-21 in the first half. The Cardinals were a robust 19-of-23 from the free throw line in the game to help make up for its struggles from the floor.
Both teams grabbed 36 rebounds in the contest and McNeese surrendered just nine turnovers on the night. The Cowboys also finished 8-of-17 from 3-point range in the game.
The Cowboys led wire-to-wire, taking advantage of 11 first half Lamar turnovers to build a 23-5 lead with 11:12 to play in the first half. McNeese still led 32-14 before a 12-0 Lamar run made it a six-point game with 1:30 to go before halftime.
Mitchell, who was 6-of-6 from the free throw line on the night, hit two to begin the run. Stan Brown added a pair of free throws and Donnell Minton converted a steal into a three-point play to make the score 32-21. Mitchell and Nikko Acosta each hit two free throws and minor knocked down 1-of-2 from the foul line to complete the run.
Craig McFerrin, who finished with six points and a team-high eight rebounds for McNeese, hit a jumper with just over a minute to play in the first half that made the score 34-26 at the intermission. The Cowboys hit six of their 3-pointers in the first half in building the lead.
Mitchell finished 6-of-11 from the floor, adding seven rebounds and two of LU’s four blocked shots on the night. Minor added 14 points and four assists and Brown finished with 11 points and six boards. Acosta grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds to lead all players.
Jeremie Mitchell led the Cowboys with 17 points on just eight shot attempts. The senior guard finished 5-of-8 from the field, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Guidry added 11 points and seven rebounds, and Dontae Cannon and Hardy chipped in with 10 points each.
Lamar, which hung its 2012 NCAA Tournament banner prior to the game, fell to 1-12 in the Southland with just five games to play. At 3-22 overall, the Cardinals established a new high for losses in a season.
The Cardinals will look to keep their hopes for qualifying for the Southland Conference Tournament alive on Tuesday night when Nicholls visits the Montagne Center. The top eight teams earn a spot in the tournament which begins March 13 at the Merrell Center in Katy.Wednesday, April 23 2014, 11:23 AM CDT