Nicholls pulls clear late for 73-64 win over McNeese

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THIBODAUX – Nicholls used several bursts of scoring throughout its game against McNeese on Thursday night but it was its defense in the final four minutes that allowed the Colonels to pull out a 73-64 win in Southland Conference action.

The loss was the fourth straight for the Cowboys as they fall to 5-14 overall and 2-4 in league play. Nicholls, who remains perfect at home with seven wins on the season, improved to 9-9 and 4-2.

The two teams will meet again on Saturday in Lake Charles at the Legacy Center.

Trailing 64-60 with 4:30 to play following a Roberts Berze three-pointer, the Cowboys managed just a couple of free throws and a layup, all by Trae English, and only managed to attempt three shots during that span.

English scored 10 points in the game while Zach Scott led the Cowboys with 15 points. Harwin Francois scored 10 and Donovan Oday added a season-high 11 points. Francois, who entered the game as one of the hottest three-point shooters in the conference, made just 2 of 10 from long range.

As a team, the Cowboys were just 7 of 24 from three-point land for 29 percent and 23 of 56 for 41 percent overall. The Colonels connected on 11 three pointers (11-27) for 41 percent and shot 29 of 64 for 45 percent for the game.

Latrell Jones led the Colonels with 23 points behind 9 of 21 shooting. Caleb Huffman scored 15, Pierce Spencer 14 with a career-high four three-pointers made, and Marek Nelson had 10.

Nicholls opened the game on a 13-2 run after sinking its first three-pointers attempted. McNeese managed to pull to within 17-12 with 12:45 to play after a Francois pull-up jumper but the Colonels answered with six straight to build a 23-12 advantage midway through the half.

The Cowboys, where were ice cold in the first 10 minutes after making only 4 of their first 13 shots, hit nearly 50 percent for the rest of the half that led to a 22-9 run and a 34-32 halftime lead.

Much like the first half, the Colonels came out in the second with a 13-4 run while making 60 percent of their shots and grabbed a 45-38 lead with 14:55 to play. A 7-0 run by the Cowboys followed with Christian Shumate making a layup and-1 to tie the game at 45-45. Jones snapped the run with a long three-point basket followed by a Huffman layup to put the Colonels up 50-45 with 11:51 remaining.

Trailing 52-47 a minute later, Oday scored four straight points for the Cowboys to make it a 52-51 game, and following a Francois turn-around jumper to make it a 55-53 Nicholls lead, the Colonels knocked down three consecutive three-pointers to help them build a 64-53 advantage with 6:00 on the clock.

The Cowboys were able to roll off seven straight points to get to within 64-60 but the Colonels clamped down on the defense and prevented McNeese from getting another run together.

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