Resilient Cowboys take Lobos to the wire before falling late

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ALBUQUERQUE – Sha’Markus Kennedy scored 26 points and Dru Kuxhausen added 21 behind seven three-point baskets to lead McNeese in a closely contested game against New Mexico here Saturday before falling in the final two minutes, 90-80, in front of 10,800 fans.

Leondre Washington tied the game at 78-78 with his third three-pointer of the game as he finished with 18 points, then pulled the Cowboys (1-4) to within 82-80 after two free throws with 1:10 to play but the Lobos (4-0) scored the final eight points of the game, six of those on free throws, to pull out the win.

Saturday’s game was the fourth game in eight days for McNeese.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” said head coach Heath Schroyer whose team battled tough at Wisconsin just three days ago. “This trip has been extremely hard, and to come play in this environment versus this team and have a chance to win, showed me a lot.

“I’m so encouraged by our team’s fight, resolve and toughness. We have gotten better every game out versus great competition. I’m so proud of our team.”

McNeese will return home for a Monday night contest against Arlington Baptist at 6:30.

“We’re excited to get home and play in front of our fans on Monday night,” said Schroyer.

Kennedy sank 11 of 15 from the field and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. He also blocked six shots and dished out three assists.

As a team, McNeese sank 50.9 percent from the field, hitting 28 of 55, and was 13 of 29 for 45 percent from three-point range.

New Mexico had five players score in double-figures, led by Corey Manigault’s 24 points and nine rebounds. Jaquan Lyle added 18 points while Makuach Maluach and Zane Martin added 12 each. Vance Jackson scored 11 to round out the double-figure scorers.

The Lobos shot 48 percent from the field (28 of 59) and was 8 of 20 for 40 percent from long range.

McNeese trailed 44-39 at the half and led 15-5 four minutes into the game after a Kennedy fast break basket.

New Mexico took its first lead with 8:27 to play in the half following two Vance Jackson layups to make it 25-23. McNeese retook the lead on a Sam Baker three then built a 29-25 lead after Kuxhausen dropped a 3 with 6:02 to play.

The Lobos followed with an 8-0 run behind back-to-back three-pointers from Maluach and Jackson to put New Mexico up 33-29 with 4:29 to play in the half.

Kuxhausen pulled McNeese to within 41-39 with a three-pointer with 19 seconds to play but Jaquan Lyle sank a trey at the buzzer to send the Lobos into the break with a five-point lead.

After falling behind by seven points early in the second half, McNeese scored five straight points off off two Kennedy free throws and another Kuxhausen 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 46-44 with 18:27 to play.

New Mexico followed with five straight points to build a 51-44 lead but the Cowboys then rolled off a 9-0 run and took a 53-51 lead after a Washington jumper in the paint with 13:51 to play.

The lead changed hands a couple more times, and with 12:09 to play, Washington drained a three-pointer to put McNeese up 56-55.

The Lobos responded with a 12-2 run over the next three minutes and led 66-58 with 9:43 to play.

Kuxhausen snapped the drought with another three-pointer to pull the Cowboys to within 66-61 with 8:42 to play, then tied the game at 68-68 with 7:05 to play on his seventh trey of the game.

Washington added to the lead with three free throws to put McNeese up 71-68 at the 6:47 mark but New Mexico went on a 6-0 run to retake a 74-71 lead with 5:14 to play.

After a Carlton Bragg three gave the Lobos a 78-75 lead with 2:52 to play, Washington knocked down his third 3-pointer of the game to tie things up at 78-78 with 2:29 remaining. His two free throws with 1:10 left pull McNeese to within 82-80 but the Cowboys were not able to get another shot off while the Lobos hit their final six shots at the free throw line.

New Mexico held a 38-27 advantage in rebounds as Bragg pulled down 18 for the Lobos.

McNeese dished out 24 assists on 28 made shots with seven of those coming from Washington while A.J. Lawson added five.

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