Contributed by: NSU Athletic Communications
NATCHITOCHES – McNeese’s Kalob Ledoux shot the visiting Cowboys on top quickly Saturday afternoon at Northwestern State, and just when the Demons were recovering late, he was pivotal in halting the comeback.
Ledoux scored a career-best 34, pouring in 7 of 8 on 3-pointers, including his first five in a row over a seven-minute stretch that built a double-digit advantage in the Cowboys’ 75-62 Southland Conference basketball victory at Prather Coliseum.
The Demons (3-18 overall, 0-11 in the Southland) spent 18 minutes sandwiched around halftime trailing by at least 10 points. They finally trimmed the margin to single-digits with 12 minutes remaining, drawing within five points four times, the last with 3:34 remaining.
Ledoux hit a layup with 3:13 left, added a pair of free throws a little over a minute later, and the Cowboys (8-12, 5-5) held the Demons scoreless in a game-ending 8-0 burst.
“The story of the game was we don’t finish, and they do. They got easy buckets and got to the free throw line and converted down the stretch, and we did not,” said 19th-year Demons’ coach Mike McConathy, whose team, the nation’s fifth-youngest with only one senior, fell for the 14th straight time.
Ledoux hit 12 of 19 shots overall and snagged seven rebounds. Quatarrius Wilson scored 13 and collected 15 rebounds for the Cowboys, who had a 25-13 rebounding advantage at halftime and finished beating the Demons 43-34 on the boards.
NSU’s inside stalwart, Ishmael Lane, was limited by foul trouble in the second half. He led the Demons with 14 points, seven rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals but missed 10 of the final 20 minutes.
“Kalob Ledoux had an unbelievable game, and Mr. Wilson was pretty amazing inside pulling rebounds,” said McConathy. “It hurt us to have Ishmael Lane in foul trouble, only able to play 23 minutes. Still, we did get 12 second-half offensive rebounds and that effort allowed us to challenge the lead.”
But down the stretch, the Demons faltered. They missed their final five shots and three free throws. Meanwhile McNeese sank both its shots from the floor and went 4-for-6 on the free throw line.
“We came and competed, got locked in, and it felt like we were united and could get it done. We just didn’t close out our run,” said McConathy. “The effort was quality.”
The Demons shifted defenses trying to abate Ledoux’s impact, with no success. The 6-3 sophomore, a high school teammate of NSU freshman Caleb Starks at Lafayette Christian Academy, scored 19 by halftime as McNeese took control.
“He’s a rhythm guy, and we thought going zone early would limit him from making his moves, but he nailed 3-pointers then,” said McConathy. “We switched to man (defense) and that didn’t slow him down. It was a remarkable effort by him, and really, their whole team to keep fighting off our comebacks.”
NSU got a spark from long-idled freshman guard Czar Perry, who scored 12 points and had three assists in 26 minutes. Ten of his points came after halftime. Perry missed 15 games with personal issues before finally getting back to action last Saturday.
While the Ledoux-led McNeese 3-point assault totaled 10 of 20 accuracy, NSU was just 1 of 11 behind the arc. The Cowboys were 15 of 20 at the free throw line, while the Demons made 7 of 11. McNeese had a 43-40 percent advantage in overall shooting aim.
The Demons will stay at home Wednesday night to face Lamar, which pounded Stephen F. Austin on Saturday evening, 76-54.