Alex Tucker made his first collegiate start against McNeese Friday night. (Richard Martin Photo)
Nov. 28, 2008
LAKE CHARLES, LA - Sophomore guard C.J. Collins scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half to lead McNeese State past visiting Florida Atlantic 72-68 at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
Collins made a fade-away 18-foot jump shot with 2:02 remaining that extended the Cowboys lead to seven and McNeese State (2-2) held on for the win.
Florida Atlantic (3-4) received 16 points from senior guard Paul Graham III. Underclassmen Xavier Perkins and Shavar Richardson each added 13. The Owls were playing its fifth game in six outings away from home.
McNeese State, a member of the Southland Conference, and their 6-foot-11, 300-pound senior center Kleon Penn benefited from a big night from Collins. The 5-foot-8 Collins dished out six assists and scored seven-straight points while Penn was on the bench with foul trouble in the second half.
The Owls enjoyed an early 16-7 lead and held a five-point edge, 21-16, with 7:02 remaining in the first half when McNeese State leading scorer Diego Kapelan made his first field goal.
Kapelan and teammate Patrick Richard each made a pair of first-half 3s, sparking a 14-3 run by the Cowboys.
Helping the McNeese run was an eight-minute FAU field goal drought, which was ended by a Tucker basket with 1:35 remaining before halftime.
McNeese State led 34-28 at the intermission.
The Cowboys pushed the lead up to 11 in the opening stages of the second half, prompting an FAU timeout.
With Penn on the bench with three fouls the Owls made a run of their own to get back into the game. Carderro Nwoji scored inside and was fouled then connected on a 3-pointer at the 13:15 mark. Nwoji dished to Graham for a layup to pull the Owls to within two, 47-45, with 12:55 on the clock.
Graham buried his third 3-pointer and Richardson added another to keep the Owls close, trailing 59-53 with 7:16 to play.
A pair of Graham free throws made it 65-60 with 2:45 left and Graham would make another jumper with 12 seconds remaining that cut the McNeese State lead to five, 70-65.
But the Cowboys made the necessary free throws to hold on for the win.