The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

Lions corral Cowboys, put an end to nation’s longest winning streak

Sophomore+SLU+forward+Dylan+Canoville+rises+for+monster+fastbreak+slam+dunk+following+a+steal+in+the+Lions+dramatic+victory+over+McNeese+at+the+Pride+Roofing+University+Center.+%28Feb.+3%2C+2024+-+Hammond%29
Chase Gispert
Sophomore SLU forward Dylan Canoville rises for monster fastbreak slam dunk following a steal in the Lions’ dramatic victory over McNeese at the Pride Roofing University Center. (Feb. 3, 2024 – Hammond)

Southeastern men’s basketball (10-13, 5-5 SLC) stunned Southland leaders McNeese 77-74 on Saturday evening (Feb. 3) at the Pride Roofing University Center.

The Cowboys entered Hammond, America with a 19-2 record and were a perfect 8-0 in conference play, owning the longest winning streak in the nation this season at 14 games unbeaten.

That run came to a screeching halt at the PRUC as former LSU coach Will Wade saw his side suffer its first defeat since November 2023.

The Lions possessed a well-balanced offensive attack in victory, as four players finished in double figures.

Senior forward Nick Caldwell led the way with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a game-high three blocks.

The Prairieville product went 3-7 from beyond the arc and was instrumental in SLU’s triumph.

“We came in with a lot of confidence coming off that road win vs. HCU (80-58). We really found what connected on offense and we just came in with the same mindset knowing we could beat them (McNeese). We just had to play our style of game,” Caldwell said of the team’s mindset.

Backcourt duo Roscoe Eastmond and Roger McFarlane scored 15 points apiece and both shot 2/5 from downtown.

Eastmond dished five dimes, pacing Southeastern as its floor general, a role he has flourished in since transferring from Denver in 2021.

Graduate guard Alec Woodard produced 13 points while converting 3/6 (50%) of his triples and sinking some clutch free throws down the stretch.

Freshman guard Kam Burton also hit a couple momentous threes in his short five minutes of action.

McNeese started the contest fast as expected, jumping out to an 11-6 lead over three and a half minutes into the game (16:28) following Christian Shumate’s three-pointer.

However, a decisive 15-2 SLU run over the next seven minutes provided the Lions with an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish.

The energy from the Lions was immense, punctuated by Eastmond diving on the floor for a loose ball, which the home fans adored.

Senior SLU point guard Roscoe Eastmond dives on the floor for a loose ball in the Lions’ Southland Conference showdown vs. McNeese at the Pride Roofing University. (Feb. 3, 2024 – Hammond) (Chase Gispert)

The Green and Gold barrage continued throughout the remainder of the first half and before anyone could blink, Southeastern had a double-digit lead over the high-flying league leaders.

The Lions walked off the court to jubilant cheers from the crowd, while the Cowboys wandered solemnly into the visitors’ locker room at the half wondering what had just hit them as the scoreboard read 40-28, SLU.

Southeastern shot a blistering 7/11 from deep in the first period of play and an unconscious 16/27 (59.26%) from the field.

While the Lions’ percentages in both categories would come down to earth in the second half, Southeastern had established a substantial cushion against the potent McNeese side; this was something that proved prudent as the final twenty minutes of the game unfolded.

However, instead of getting complacent with a sizable advantage, SLU continued its aggressive play into the second period, which had fueled them to this point.

At the 12:55 mark, Caldwell’s rainbow three gave the Lions their largest lead of the second period, 56-41 to the eruption of the PRUC.

Faced with a 15-point deficit, McNeese showed why they were winners of 14 straight. The Cowboys clawed their way back into the contest and were suddenly within three (64-61) following CJ Felder’s ferocious fast break dunk with 6:29 remaining.

Despite McNeese’s mounting momentum, Southeastern weathered the storm and relied on its defense to preserve its precious lead.

SLU held its opponents scoreless for nearly five minutes as Javohn Garcia’s free throw quenched the Cowboys’ drought with 1:37 to play.

While the Lions’ defense showed its teeth, their offense was stuck in neutral. Southeastern amassed just four points during McNeese’s dry spell and led 68-64 with under two minutes to go in the contest.

A pair of free throws from McFarlane and Woodard, sandwiched by one free throw from Garcia, gifted SLU a 72-63 advantage with 50 seconds remaining, seemingly tying the knot on an emphatic Lions’ victory.

However, just when the Cowboys appeared down and out, DJ Richards Jr. drained a deep three before Wade called for a timeout.

Then, chaos ensued: Eastmond had fouled out with 54 seconds remaining and the Lions were left without their primary ball handler.

On the ensuing SLU inbound play, Caldwell appeared to throw the ball away at first glance, but McNeese’s Shamada Wells was grabbing McFarlane around the waist as he was trying to receive the pass.

The referee blew his whistle for a foul and McFarlane headed to the line to shoot two with Southeastern in the bonus.

Wade visibly didn’t agree with the call and let it be known to the officials, who gave him a technical foul, resulting in four total Lion free throw attempts.

McFarlane converted three of four from the charity stripe and SLU extended its lead back to nine, 75-66.

McNeese still wouldn’t go away as Richards Jr. drilled another three to get the Cowboys back to within six with 22 seconds left.

What would happen next left Lion fans with their hearts in their throats; Southeastern turned the ball over in the backcourt two times in a row, leading to a pair of McNeese layups.

To make matters worse, Caldwell fouled Shumate on the latter layup attempt, gifting him an and-one opportunity which he happily took advantage of by making the free throw, and in turn, a three-point play.

Without warning, the Cowboys only trailed by a lone point, 75-74 with 14 seconds to play.

At last, the Lions managed to successfully inbound the basketball and draw a foul; Woodard converted both free throws and SLU led 77-74.

McNeese still had an opportunity to send the game to overtime with the ball and 12 seconds to spare.

Garcia pump faked in the corner in front of the Cowboys’ bench before launching a corner three with four seconds remaining, hitting the front rim.

Felder grabbed the offense board and passed it to Wells, who dished it in the corner back to Garcia.

The Massachusetts transfer fired another triple from nearly the same spot as the buzzer sounded and the ball clanked off the back iron, falling harmlessly to the wooden floor.

The top blew off the PRUC; Southeastern slayed the Cowboys in an epic bout that will be remembered for years to come.

“I don’t want to blow it out of proportion because it’s just one game, but at the end of the day, when you beat a team with the nation’s longest winning streak who’s receiving Top 25 votes, it’s got to be a boost to our confidence,” SLU Coach David Kiefer said.

The Lions battled the Cowboys back on Jan. 13 but were on the losing end of a competitive 74-65 affair.

This time around, Southeastern had the last laugh and got revenge on an in-state foe in a big way.

“We haven’t played to our potential for most of the year but the last couple of games we’ve really done that. Good basketball teams are playing their best in February and March, so that’s what we’ve got to do,” Kiefer added.

Overall, SLU shot 25/47 (53.2%) from the field and a torrid 12/25 (48%) from three while holding McNeese to 26/59 (44.1%) and 7/24 (29.2%) in those same marks.

The Lions’ electric shooting night allowed them to overcome 18 turnovers to McNeese’s eight.

The Cowboys outscored Southeastern in points off takeaways 25-10, yet still lost by three.

SLU was nearly perfect from the free throw line, converting 15/16 (93.8%) attempts compared to McNeese making 15/23 (65.2%) of its attempts, which swayed the balance in the Green and Gold’s favor.

Southeastern stayed hot Monday night (Feb. 5) at home, defeating UIW 76-64 in the Pride Roofing University Center.

Winners of three straight games, SLU will get some time off before heading to Natchitoches to take on a struggling Northwestern State side (6-17, 4-6 SLC).

The Demons have lost four of their last five contests.

Tip-off is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m.

The matchup will be broadcast on ESPN+, while radio listeners can listen in on 90.9 The Lion.

As always, for future updates on SLU men’s basketball, stay tuned to The Lion’s Roar.

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About the Contributor
Chase Gispert, Sports Editor
Chase Gispert is a communication major with a concentration in sports communication. He joined The Lion’s Roar in March of 2021 and now serves as sports editor. Chase is a native of Madisonville. He has a strong passion for sports and is excited about where the future may take him.
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  • J

    Joey GrazianoFeb 15, 2024 at 1:12 am

    Great read!

    Reply
  • J

    Joey GrazianoFeb 15, 2024 at 1:09 am

    Great game… final minutes frantic!
    Enjoyed the read…

    Reply
  • J

    Joey GrazianoFeb 15, 2024 at 1:04 am

    Great game.. final minutes were frantic!
    Enjoyed the read…

    Reply