A couple of three-point shots by Diego Kapelan gave McNeese State an early lead and the Cowboys went on to an 82-63 non-conference basketball victory over Louisiana-Monroe here Thursday.
It was the Cowboys’ first win of the young season (1-1) and was McNeese head coach Dave Simmons’ first win over the Warhawks. In fact, it was the first meeting between the two teams since Louisiana-Monroe left the Southland Conference to join the Sun Belt.
All 14 players on the Cowboy roster got into the game and all of them made some sort of contribution.
Kapelan, who came off the bench, led the team in scoring with 16 points, while Stephan Martin had 14 and Elbryan Neal had 10. John Pichon and C.J. Collins had nine each, P.J. Alawoya had eight, Kleon Penn seven, Adrien Garr six, Preston David two and Patrick Richard one.
Neal led the Cowboys, who held a 48-35 edge in rebounding, in caroms with seven, while Pichon and David had six each, Alawoya, Penn and Martin five each, Collins and Richard three, Garr two and Daniel Richard, Will Morning and Kapelan one apiece.
“We felt that going into this game it would be a good opportunity for us to win,” Simmons said. “It was a tremendous effort on the part of all of our players. They played hard and it was good to get everyone into the game. We had a few more turnovers than we wanted (17) but some of those were my fault. I put some combinations (of players) out there that I haven’t used this year and we had some unforced turnovers.”
The two teams kept up with each other for the first few minutes of the game, but with the score tied, 12-12, Kapelan popped in two three-point shots and the Cowboys were off and running. They held a 42-24 first half lead.
In the second half the Cowboys got things going more their way as they knocked down a 53.6 shooting percentage (finishing at 50.9 percent) and kept a 20-point or more advantage. Their biggest lead was by 24 points.
McNeese had a total of 13 blocked shots in the game with the 6-11 Penn, who ranked fourth in the nation last year, getting a team-high seven.
Also for the Cowboys, they improved on their free throw shooting from their season opener, making 18-of-28.
The loss dropped Louisiana-Monroe to 1-2 on the season. The Warhawks did have the game’s leading scorer in Jarvis Hill, who had 18 points.
Next up for McNeese, which will stay on the road, will be a battle with TCU in Fort Worth on Saturday. That game carries a 7 p.m. start and can be listened to over KEZM-AM radio (1310).
McNeese will open its home schedule on Friday, Nov. 29 against Florida Atlantic.