Five Cardinals scored double figures as LU overcame a slow start to defeat rival McNeese, 86-80, Saturday, in the Montagne Center. 

Two Cardinals recorded a double-double as LU finished the night shooting 45 percent from the field, including six three-pointers, and a 30-of-39 performance from the free throw line. Big Red also dominated the glass pulling down 10 more boards than their opponents, 38-28, including a 10-4 advantage in offensive rebounds. The Cards used their advantage on the glass to record a 13-6 lead in second chance points.

Both teams did a good job of taking care of the basketball turning it over just 10 times. Only four of LU’s miscues came in the second half.

Seniors Colton Weisbrod and Joey Frenchwood led the way with 19 points, while junior Josh Nzeakor and senior Zjori Bosha each finished the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Senior James Harrison chipped in 10.

The first half alone was two different games as the Cowboys came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. McNeese outscored the Cardinals, 30-13, in the opening 10:21 to silence the crowd. On the verge of being knocked out early, the Cardinals didn’t allow the lead to grow any further and began to fight their way out of the corner.

Sparked by a Frenchwood three-pointer and a Kalob Ledoux technical foul, the Cardinals outscored McNeese, 27-7, over the next 7:30 to take their first lead of the game, 40-37. The Cowboys battled back to take a one-point lead with seconds remaining in the half. The Cardinals exitaed the floor with the final parting shot of the half as Bosha followed up a T.J. Atwood miss at the buzzer for the lead.

“We really had some guys step up today,” head coach Tic Price said. “We did a good job of sharing the basketball with five guys in double figures, and two with double-doubles.”

The Cardinals carried that momentum into the second half jumping to take an eight-point lead. Frenchwood buried another three for the first points of the half, and the Cardinals opened on a 14-4 run to take an 11-point lead with just over 16 minutes remaining.

 The Cowboys responded with a 15-7 run to trim the deficit down to three, 65-62, with more than 11 minutes remaining. McNeese forged their way back in front following two Stephen Ugochukwu free throws, 74-73, with 7:17 on the clock. The Cowboys were aided by four consecutive three-pointers to whittle away at LU’s lead.

The game would become a back-n-forth affair for the next 4:30 until the Cardinals reclaimed the lead for the final time on two Torey Noel free throws. After getting a stop, the Cardinals put the ball in the hands of Bosha who drove to basket for a layup to score. The Cardinals would tack on three more points – all via the free throw line – to push their lead back to seven with 22 seconds remaining. The Cowboys closed the game with only one more field goal, and were outscored, 9-2, in the final 3:51 after taking a one-point lead.

The Cardinals went to Abilene Christian, Wednesday. Scores were unavailable at press time. They will return home, Saturday, to host SFA at 7 p.m. in the Montagne Center.

Story by Cassandra Jenkins, UP managing editor

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