Turnovers costly again for McNeese in 68-64 loss to UTRGV

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EDINBURG, Texas – Sha’Markus Kennedy scored 21 points and pulled down nine rebounds but the turnover bug struck again as McNeese tallied 18 giveaways that led to 26 UTRGV points as the Cowboys fell 68-64 here Saturday night.

The loss was the third straight suffered by McNeese (3-9), all three decided buy an abundance of turnovers and points off turnovers. UTRGV improved to 8-6 while snapping a two-game skid.

Saturday’s game was the final one before Christmas as the Cowboys will not be back in action until Dec. 30 when they host Campbellsville-Harrodsburg.

Kennedy was the only McNeese player to score in double-digits in a game where the Cowboys struggled from the field, shooting 40 percent (22 of 55) and just 37.5 percent (9 of 24) in the second half.

But despite shooting below its season average, McNeese had its chances to win the game.

The Cowboys trailed 49-40 with 13:56 to play but put together a 12-0 run over the next 3:44 as hit took advantage of getting sent to the free throw line, hitting all eight shots during that span. The run was capped off by a Kennedy dunk to put the Cowboys up 52-49 with 10:12 to play.

The lead would change hands over the next three possessions before UTRGV got two free throws by Tyson Smith then a three-pointer from Lesley Varner off a McNeese turnover to put UTRGV up 58-54 with 6:39 to play.

McNeese pulled to within 60-59 following a Kennedy layup with 4:34 to play, then held on the defensive end to get the ball back. On the ensuing possession, James Harvey drove the lane and dished the ball off to Kennedy who slammed it down to presumably put McNeese up by 1 with just over four minutes to play, but Harvey would be called for an offensive foul and the points were taken off the board.

Two Will Robinson free throws with 3:25 to play cut the margin to 1 point again, this time at 62-61, then after the Cowboys turned the ball over on the following possession and another defensive stop, Robinson hit 1 of 2 at the free throw line to tie the game at 62-62 with 2:09 to play.

Smith knocked down 1 of 2 free throws for UTRGV after a Harvey foul, his fifth of the game, to make it a 63-62 game with 1:51 to play.

A Jarren Greenwood 3-point attempt fell off the mark and UTRGV got the rebound and fouled with 1:08 to play as two free throws followed to put them up 65-62.

Another turnover followed on the ensuing Cowboy possession and UTRGV responded with a layup to put it up 67-62 with 15 seconds remaining.

Trey Touchet laid one in with three seconds left to pull McNeese to within 67-64 but Javon Levi hit 1 of 2 free throws with two seconds left to make it a 68-64 final score.

UTRGV had three players score in double-digits on the night, led buy Levi and Terry Winn with 13 points each and Jordan Jackson with 10.

The Vaqueros connected on 42 percent (23 of 55) from the field for the game and 19 of 25 from the free throw line.

Neither team was good from behind the arch, McNeese hitting 2 of 14 while UTRGV sank 3 of 16.

McNeese held a 42-29 advantage in rebounding and a 16-7 lead on the offensive glass. The Cowboys scored 15 second-chance points and had 36 points in the paint.

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