LAKE CHARLES – As well as McNeese played on Wednesday in a win over Central Arkansas, the Cowboys played just the opposite against Northwestern State on Saturday as a poor first half was too much to overcome in a 78-65 loss to the Demons in Southland Conference play.
McNeese (6-12, 3-4 SLC) put together its best 40-minutes of action against UCA in an 82-72 win on Wednesday but that didn’t carry over into Saturday’s game as the Cowboys were stifled by a tough NSU defense that resulted in just 26 percent first half shooting.
And even though McNeese rebounded with 52 percent aim in the second half, the Demons (8-9, 2-4) were better by knocking down 64 percent in the final 20 minutes.
“We can’t handle success,” said coach Dave Simmons. “I could see it in our shoot around earlier in the day. We never woke up.”
McNeese trailed 31-23 at the half but came out hot in the second half to cut the margin to 1 at 38-37 after a Lance Potier 3 with 14:45 to play.
NSU’s Josh Boyd, who scored 26 points against the Cowboys in McNeese’s 79-72 overtime win over the Demons on Dec. 31, followed by scoring the next nine points for NSU, starting off with back-to-back 3s, to spark a 13-0 run for the Demons.
McNeese battled back with a 10-0 run of its own behind a couple of 3s by James Harvey, to close the gap to 51-47 with 8:17 to play.
Harvey finished the day with 13 points while Kalob Ledoux led McNeese for the second straight game with 17 points. Jamaya Burr added 10.
McNeese trailed by 5 after Ledoux hit a jumper and followed up with a free throw to make it 55-50 with 7:06 left to play.
The Demons then caught fire by hitting their final 10 shots of the game to pull away for the double-digit win, four of those coming from long range.
“We didn’t play very well,” said Simmons. “Give NSU credit. They came in and took it to us. We got close enough but never could get over the hump. We made too many mistakes at critical times of the game.”
McNeese hit just 39 percent of its shots for the game (21 of 54) and was 8 for 24 from 3-point range while the Demons knocked down 55 percent (29 of 53) including 11 of 20 from long range.
“When you don’t have the shots falling for you, you have to play defense and we didn’t do that today.”
Sabri Thompson led four NSU players who scored in double-digits with 21 points.
McNeese will now hit the road for the next four games beginning on Thursday at New Orleans.