LAKE CHARLES – McNeese’s sharp-shooters showed up in Burton Coliseum on Wednesday night.
The Cowboys buried a season-high 12 three-pointers with three players – Kalob Ledoux, Jamaya Burr and James Harvey – hit at least three apiece, and the Cowboys battled to an 82-72 win over Central Arkansas in Southland Conference play.
The win evened McNeese’s record to 3-3 in league play, 6-11 overall, while UCA fell to 3-3 and 4-15.
Ledoux got things going right away with his first of a career-high five 3-point goals just 16 seconds into the game. That got him going to a team-high 17 points on the night to lead five Cowboys who scored in double-figures.
“We finally shot the ball the way we’re supposed to,” said head coach Dave Simmons. “We have a lot of guys that can shoot the ball. We don’t have to have them all on every night, but tonight, we all were.”
The Cowboys made their first six shots of the game and only one time did not hold the lead, that coming at the 19:02 mark of the first half with the scored tied at 5-5.
The lead swayed from four to six points for most of the half until the Cowboys rolled off a 10-0 run late in the half to go up 41-29 after a jumper by Richard Laku with 2:25 to play.
Burr sank a 25-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to give McNeese a 45-34 halftime lead.
“We played well tonight and made some good decisions,” said Simmons.
That good decision making resulted in a season-high 23 assists on 32 made shots. Burr led the way with a season-high nine assists, one of a career high, to go along with 15 points.
That point total put him past the 1,000 career points milestone mark as he becomes just the fifth player in school history to score 1,000 points and dish out 300 assists in a career.
“I’m proud of the 23 assists,” said Simmons. “When you do that, that means your guys are getting good shots.”
Stephen Ugochukwu added 14 points and eight rebounds while Jarren Greenwood and Harvey each scored 11. Greenwood added seven assists and two steals on the night.
UCA, who was led in scoring by Jordan Howard’s 20 points, started the second half like the Cowboys did in the first, hitting 7 of its first 8 shots from the field and cut McNeese’s 11-point lead down to five after a Derreck Brooks jumper with 16:01 to play.
But the Cowboys responded swiftly and quickly, scoring 12 points in a minute-and-a-half span, sparked by back-to-back 3s from Ledoux, to go up 61-48 after a Lance Potier jumper with 13:03 to play to cap a 12-4 run.
The Bears battled back and got the deficit to seven points after a Jeff Lowery jumper with 8:25 to play to make it 63-56.
But this time it was Harvey who knocked down back-to-back 3s followed by a third straight trey from Laku as the Cowboys scored nine straight in 1:10 to take their largest lead of the game at 16 points, 72-56, with 6:31 to play.
The Bears were able to get it down to single digits just twice more but never closer than eight points as Greenwood closed out the scoring with a free throw with eight seconds to play.
“It was a great team effort tonight,” said Simmons. “We beat a good team who has beaten some good teams this year.”
The Cowboys hit 49 percent for the game (32 of 65) and 44 percent from 3-point range (12 of 27). UCA connected on 44 percent from the floor (27 of 61) and was 7 of 21 from long range for 33 percent.
For the second straight game, McNeese out-rebounded its opponent as it held a 37-35 advantage against UCA.
McNeese also turned the ball over just six times with one of those being a team turnover due to a shot clock violation.
Next up, the Cowboys will be back at home on Saturday when they host Northwestern State in the second half of a 1 p.m. doubleheader.