Career night by Ugochukwu lifts Cowboys to win over UIW

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SAN ANTONIO – Stephen Ugochukwu scored a career-high 25 points with 13 rebounds and Jamaya Burr added 22 points for his second-consecutive 20-point game as the McNeese Cowboys beat Incarnate Word 87-79 here Thursday night in Southland Conference action and snapping a three-game losing streak.

McNeese (7-14, 4-6 SLC) trailed 14-8 four minutes into the first half then rolled off 17 straight points and never looked back in ending UIW’s four-game winning streak.

“We came in and beat a really good and skilled team at their home place,” said McNeese coach Dave Simmons. “We played well for all 40 minutes tonight.”

The Cowboys connected on 51 percent of their shots (31 of 61) for the game and set a new single-game school record by hitting 75 percent (9 of 12) from 3-point range with a minimum of 10 attempts.

Ugochukwu, who hit 8 of 16 from the field including his only 3-point goal and 8 of 9 a the free throw line, scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half.

“Stephen had a tremendous night with 25 (points) and 13 (rebounds),” said Simmons. “He started cramping up a little bit in the second half because he didn’t sit much in the first half, but he really battled hard for us. He did what he has to do for us to win.”

McNeese’s starters connected on 30 of 57 from the field. Burr, who scored 26 points at Nicholls last Saturday, dropped 9 of 15 of his shots on Thursday including 3 of 4 from long range. He also dished out four assists and turned the ball over just once.

“Burr has done a great job shooting the ball the last couple of games,” said Simmons. “He’s being patient and getting up some good shots.”

Ledoux made 6 of 7 from the field, all three of his 3s, and was 3 for 4 at the line for his 18 points while Potier drained 5 of 10 for 11 points and just missed out on a double-double with eight rebounds.

“Kalob Ledoux found his stroke again tonight and James Harvey came in and did a good job for us,” said Simmons. “He hit a really big three in the second half for us.”

That Harvey 3 came with 7:15 to play in the game and McNeese leading just 64-61 with UIW on a 5-0 run.

McNeese entered the game struggling to take care of the ball, having turned it over 54 times in the last three games. But against UIW, the Cowboys turned it over just 10 times and only four in the second half.

The Cowboys also held a 36-34 advantage in rebounds.

“I think those were two really big keys tonight,” said Simmons. “Cutting down on the turnovers and leading in rebounds.”

UIW (10-11, 5-5) turned it over 14 times as the Cowboys scored 22 points off those turnover. McNeese also scored 18 second chance points on 11 offensive rebounds.

Like McNeese, the Cardinals had four players score in double-figure with two in the 20s – Jalin Hart with 22 and Simi Socks with 21.

After the Cowboys trailed 14-8 after the first four minutes of the game, McNeese rolled off 17 straight points behind 3s from Burr and Ledoux, and a 3-point play by Ugochukwu.

UIW stayed close by hitting 7 of 11 from long range in the first half and ended the game making 11 of 23. The Cardinals connected on 29 of 60 from the field for 48 percent for the game.

It was Ugochukwu’s fifth double-double of the season, third in conference play, and second in the last three games.

McNeese will be back in action on Saturday afternoon when it visits Interstate-10 rival Lamar beginning at 4 p.m. and following a women’s game between the two schools.

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Matthew Bonnette

Matthew Bonnette

Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information, McNeese State

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