LAKE CHARLES — It was a tale of two halves for the UO men’s basketball team as the Privateers saw a halftime lead quickly vanish after haltime in an 87-76 loss to Southland Conference foe McNeese State on Thursday evening in Burton Coliseum.
After connecting on 52.9 percent of its shots (18-of-34) in the opening 20 minutes, UNO hit just 10-of-28 tries in the second half (.357) and was outscored 44-30 in the period. The loss was the second straight for the Privateers, who fell to 8-14 overall and 4-7 in Southland action. McNeese State, meanwhile, snapped a three-game skid to improve to 6-15 on the year and 4-7 in conference play.
Junior forward Erik Thomas led five UNO players in double figures with 17 points, while sophomore wing Michael Zeno added 13 and the trio of senior forward Kevin Hill, junior guard Christavious Gill and freshman Cameron Reed had 10 apiece.
Hill led the Privateers with seven rebounds and tallied the team’s lone blocked shot. Gill had three of UNO’s 13 assists and both he and sophomore forward Travin Thibodeaux had two steals.
The teams traded the first 14 points of the contest before McNeese State went on a 10-2 run to take a 17-9 lead with 13:19 to play in the opening half.
The Privateers rallied to take a 24-23 advantage 5:22 later only to see the Cowboys score the next four points on baskets by Stephen Ugochuckwu and Jarren Greenwood. From there, UNO scored 12 of the next 15 points to take a 36-30 lead it would not relinquish the rest of the half.
Leading 39-33 with 4:01 to play in the opening half, the Privateers went into halftime clinging to a 46-43 advantage.
The Cowboys’ Jamaya Burr buried a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the second half to tie the game. Following a Thomas layup to stake the Privateers to a two-point advantage, McNeese State’s James Harvey buried a 3-pointer the next time down the court to give the home team the lead for good.
Harvey’s basket sparked an 11-2 McNeese State rally, and the Cowboys’ pushed the lead to nine at 61-52 on a pair Burr free throws with 11:59 to play in regulation.
UNO got a pair of free throws by Zeno and a three-point play by Thomas to cut the deficit to four but could get no closer the rest of the night.
Harvey led the Cowboys with a game-high 23 points, followed by Burr with 18, Grenwood with 13 and Craig McFerrin with 11.
McFerrin fell one rebound shy of a double-double with nine while Burr led all players with four assists and three steals.
TEXAS A&M-CC 75, UNO 64: In New Orleans, Randi Brown scored 29 points and had six rebounds, but Texas A&M-Corpus Christi picked up the win at Lakefront Arena.
The Privateers (6-15, 3-9 Southland) cut the deficit from eight to three on several occasions — the last coming with 1:05 left in the game when Brown hit two free throws. The Islanders responded when Maddisen Turner hit a bucket in the paint on the ensuing possession with 47 seconds left. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (8-15, 5-7) used free throws to pull away.
UNO’s Danielle Wright put up seven points.
Jennifer Ramirez scored 16 points off the bench to lead the Islanders and also added three assists. Turner scored 15 points and had four steals. Gee Lawler and Shay Weaver posted eight points as the Islanders won despite their leading rebounder in Camesha Davis and leading scorer in Brittany Mbamalu both fouling out of the game with just four points between them.