No. 8 McNeese takes down No. 4 Nicholls, 77-71, to advance to semifinals of Jersey Mike’s Southland Conference Basketball Championships

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Zach Scott

LAKE CHARLES, La. – For the first time in Southland Tournament history, an eight seed has qualified for the semifinals, as McNeese toppled fourth-seed Nicholls, 77-71, in the quarterfinal of the 2023 Jersey Mike’s Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Championship presented by on Monday evening.

The Cowboys scored eight of the game’s last 10 points to pick up a game that will go down in SLC lore and moved their overall record to 11-22. McNeese moves on to the semifinals against regular season A&M-Corpus Christi at 5:30 p.m. on ESPNU. Nicholls’ season concludes with a 16-15 mark.

This is McNeese’s first semifinal appearance since 2012.

Christian Shumate notched a double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds and tied for the team lead in points. Zach Scott also scored 22 points and was joined in double figures by Donovan Oday with 12 points and Harwin Francois with 11.

Nicholls was paced by 25 points from Latrell Jones and Caleb Huffman with 22 points.

Both teams made over half of their shots with McNeese connecting on 54.0 percent (27-of-50) and Nicholls making 51.9 percent (28-of-54). McNeese had a 41-19 rebounding advantage.

The game was predictably tight in the early going, with Nicholls holding a four-point lead at 15-11 with 12:49 to play in the half. The Cowboys then flipped that to a six-point lead in their favor with a 12-2 surge over the next four minutes to make it 23-17.

The Colonels fought back to make it a one-point contest with five minutes to play in the half, but McNeese once again surged, closing on a 12-4 run to make it a 41-32 lead at halftime.

Huffman and Shumate’s scoring prowess were on display in the opening segment of the second half, with Huffman putting the advantage back in the Colonels’ hands. Down 7, Huffman scored nine of the Colonels’ 10 straight points to take a 59-56 lead with 8:42 left in the game.

The game stayed within one possession until the final minute of the game, but Nicholls was unable to connect on a field goal in the final 3:14 of the game. McNeese capitalized on that by closing on a 9-4 rally, punching their ticket to Tuesday’s semifinal round.

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