Hill and Ugochukwu celebrate last hoorah in Burton with 69-60 win over Lamar

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LAKE CHARLES, La. – The last game in Burton Coliseum definitely did not disappoint; the McNeese Cowboys defeated Lamar University, 69-60 on Senior Night, Saturday (Mar.3). McNeese’s win was part one of a two-part deal needed for the Cowboys to clinch a spot in Katy for the Southland Conference tournament.

“One thing we talked about was making sure our last game in Burton Coliseum was a good one, to come out here and do our jobs- and I think the guys did just that,” said head basketball coach Dave Simmons. “I’m real proud of Stephen and LaBarrius for what they’ve given to this program and I’m glad we could get them this win tonight.”

Seniors LaBarrius Hill and Stephen Ugochukwu were each given a standing ovation as they exited the court for one last time in Burton Coliseum.

Hill finished his last game in Burton with six rebounds and two more blocks, bringing his two-year career total to 67.

Ugochuwu wrapped up game in Lake Charles with his tenth double-digit performance of the season, scoring 12 points in the victory. He also earned five more rebounds to add to his career stats, increasing his total to 499 rebounds.

The Cowboys and Cardinals fought back and forth through the whole game, with neither team ever leading by more than the winning nine and tying nine times.

Simmons’ squad shot 46.8% from the field tonight, a huge improvement from the first game in which they reached only 29%, “When took a few shots we could have waited on, but even when we did miss the shot, we made it a point to either get the rebound or make the stop on Lamar’s next drive. That’s crucial if you want to win, making sure that their opportunities don’t outnumber yours.”

The Cowboys have also dramatically improved their rebounding tendencies from just the last time they faced Lamar, back in Janaury.

Tonight, McNeese outrebounded Lamar 43-36. When the Cardinals defeated the Cowboys in January, the Cowboys managed only 28 rebounds.

The Cardinals led 43-36 early in the second half after Lamar’s Colton Weisbrod put back a lay-up. From there, McNeese would go on a 9-2 run, tying the score 45-45 with 13:38 on the clock.

McNeese took the lead for the last time with 7:20 left in the second half when newcomer Quatarrius Wilson sank a shot from the charity stripe, giving the Cowboys a 56-55 lead.

Wilson is back to his normal-self after getting over a sickness earlier this week, putting up 10 points and pulling down 12 rebounds, and a season high four blocks- with that, Wilson earned his 14th double-double of the season.

“Props to Lamar, coming in on a four-game win streak, with a full, healthy team. It feels good to come in here, knowing what was at stake, to beat a strong, talented, Lamar team in a rivalry game like this one” Simmons said.

Tonight’s win breaks a three-game losing streak against Lamar- claiming a home victory against the Cardinals for the first time since 2013.

“It shows you what kind of team we really are, when we stay focused on the game for the full forty minutes. We gave up 22 turnovers in that time, but when you push the tempo and pump up the intensity and attack the basket with more aggressiveness- that’s going to happen.”

The Cowboys tied their season-high with 22 turnovers in the win, able to keep the Cardinals at bay despite scoring 18 points off those miscues. McNeese had one of the biggest outputs from its bench tonight, contributing 34 of its 69 final points.

McNeese will await the final score of the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi/Houston Baptist game before knowing its fate in regards to advancing to the SLC Tournament. Visit McNeeseSports.com for full box-score and team updates.

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