BEAUMONT, Texas – The Lamar Cardinals were unable to overcome a slow start dropping a 74-59 decision to McNeese State (5-11/3-1 SLC) Saturday evening at the Montagne Center. The loss dropped the Cardinals to 1-15 on the season and 0-4 in Southland Conference play.
"We have the players here that we can with this year, we're just not doing it and it is frustrating," said head coach Pat Knight. "No one is more frustrated by this than I am. The problem is we're playing not to lose instead of playing to win. We just don't bring it for 40 minutes a game.
"We started flat today, and just couldn't get our shots to fall in the first half. It's not that we're getting bad looks, but we just missed too many layups," added Knight.
The Cardinals stumbled out of the gate connecting on just 6-of-25 attempts (.240), including an 0-for-6 mark from beyond the three-point arc. The Cowboys took advantage of Lamar's struggles to build a 10-point advantage less than nine minutes into the contest. The Cowboys, who shot 43 percent from the field in the opening half, built their lead to 19 points with 4:11 remaining before intermission. LU closed the half on a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 14, 35-21.
Although the Cardinals didn't turn the ball over much in the first half, McNeese State made LU pay when it did. The Cowboys turned Lamar's seven turnovers into 12 first half points.
The Cardinals shot the ball better in the second half but couldn't put together a significant run. Lamar spent the first 10 minutes of the second trading baskets with its guests getting no closer than 10 points but not allowing the deficit to get any greater than 12.
Trailing by 12 with just under 9:30 remaining, sophomore Rhon Mitchell converted an and-one to cut the lead to single digits for first time since the 14:04 mark of the first half. The Cowboys responded with consecutive baskets to push the lead back to 13 points.
Following a Mitchell layup, Lamar cut the deficit to a manageable 10 points with 3:45 remaining, but the Cowboys ended the game scoring 10 of the final 15 points for the final score.
The Cowboys continued to cash in on Lamar's mistakes in the second half. The Cards finished the game with 13 miscues which McNeese converted into 18 points, while Lamar scored only four points off McNeese's eight turnovers.
The Cardinals also struggled to get much production from its bench for a second consecutive night. The Lamar reserves were outscored, 35-7, by McNeese State's bench.
Two Cardinals finished the game in double figures, led by Mitchell's 18. Mitchell was also one of three Cardinals to pull down at least eight rebounds in the contest. Senior Amos Wilson added 12 points, and also grabbed eight boards. He was 2-of-7 from the field but finished the game a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Saturday's game marked the first time this season that junior Nimrod Hilliard didn't score at least 10 points in a game. The Madison, Wis. native, played through an injury to score eight points.
The Cardinals return to action Thursday when they travel to New Orleans, La., to take on the Privateers. The game against UNO is slated to begin at 7:45 p.m. from Lakefront Arena.