LAKE CHARLES – Kalob Ledoux scored a career-high 19 points but it was the second half play of Abilene Christian’s Jalone Friday that stole the show as his 18 second half points helped his team hold off McNeese 82-78 in Southland Conference action Thursday night.
The loss was the fourth straight suffered by the Cowboys (7-18, 4-10 SLC) as their postseason hopes are slimmed with just four games remaining. ACU (12-13, 6-8), who is not eligible for postseason play as its in its final season of transition up from Division II, won its first league game away from home in seven tries.
The game featured 12 ties and 12 lead changes and the largest lead way by nine points by ACU, that coming midway through the first half.
Ledoux connected on 6 of 9 shots from the field and was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc. He scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half and was held to just 1 of 2 shooting in the second half.
Stephen Ugochukwu added 16 points and nine rebounds. He scored 12 in the second half before fouling out with 2:58 remaining and the Cowboys trailing 73-72.
Richard Laku tied a career-high with 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting (3-for-6 from long range) and Lance Potier added 10 points and seven rebounds before leaving the game with 12:24 to play after Potier’s head slammed against the floor when attempting to take a charge from ACU’s Jaylen Franklin.
Potier was whistled for the blocking foul and Franklin hit to free throws to put his team up 51-49. Potier did not return to the game.
After a 34-34 tie at the half, McNeese got a jumper by Ugochukwu followed by a 3 from Potier to put the Cowboys up 39-35 with 18:37 to play.
The lead was 41-39 after a couple of Ledoux free throws with 16:58 to play when ACU scored six straight points behind back-to-back 3-pointers by Hayden Farquhar and Drake Green.
A Ugochukwu layup with 9:05 to play put McNeese back up 57-56 but Green came back with a 3 to put the Wildcats up by two points. McNeese would never get the lead back.
However, an offensive putback dunk by Laku tied the game at 78-78 with 44 seconds to play. Then after two free throws by Friday put the Wildcats up 80-78 with 30.1 seconds left, McNeese was unable to get a 3-point shot to fall by Laku as Green pulled in the rebound, was fouled, and hit both free throws with 4.8 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Farquhar added 16 points for ACU while Franklin scored 15.
McNeese connected on 45 percent from the field for the game (27 of 60) and was 10 of 23 from long range. The Cowboys hit 14 of 18 from the free throw line.
ACU hit 27 of 53 for 51 percent for the game and 8 of 21 from 3-point range. ACU made 20 of 26 from the free throw line including its final seven with less than three minutes to play.
The Cowboys will be off for a week before returning to action next Thursday when they host Houston Baptist.