Basketball season over for Bearkats

BOSSIER CITY, La. Its all over until next year.Tierre Brown scored 34 points and Demond Mallet finished with 20 for McNeese State as the Cowboys ended the SHSU mens basketball season with a 99-82 thumping of the Bearkats in the first round of the CenturyTel Southland Conference tournament on Friday, March 9.The Bearkats, who for the second consecutive year have lost in the second round, finished the season with a mark of 16-13. McNeese State, who easlily won the regular season conference title, was upset by Northwestern State in the tournament championship game 72-71. (McNeese State has) a nice team, Bearkat head coach Bob Marlin said after the game. Theyve won 14 in a row and 18 of 19. We certainly felt like we could win and looked forward to the opportunity but we just didnt have it tonight.A big thing the Bearkats didnt have was steady scoring from anyone other than seniors Jeremy Burkhalter and Senecca Wall, who finished with 27 and 24 points respectively. Eddy Fobbs (11 rebounds) was the only other Sam Houston player to finish the game in double digits in any statastical category. The Cowboys, as well as receiving big performances from Brown and Mallet, got 13 points off the bench from Ben Perkins. Forward Fred Gentry added eight and every player in a McNeese uniform scored.We shouldve played 2-on-2, Marlin said referring to Wall and Burkhalter against Brown and Mallet. I guess theyd have won 54-51. These are four of the best players in the league and people need to appreciate them. Theyve been quite a show.The Bearkats led for much of the first half, but after McNeese regained the lead in the final minutes before halftime, Mallet nailed one of his three three-pointers in the closing seconds to extend the Cowboys lead to 40-36 going into the locker room.Sam Houston came out in the second half and went on a 5-0 run to take a 41-40 lead with 19:40 remaining. But shortly after taking the lead things fell to pieces for the Bearkats as they were called for four quick fouls and it didnt get much better as the Cowboys were already in the bonus four minutes into the half.They got to the bonus quicker than we did. The foul differential hurt us, Marlin said.McNeese State would go on to score a whopping 59 points in the final half, a number that Marlin was none too happy about.Fifty-nine points in the second half is way too many, he said. They just shot the ball better and the stats prove that.Mallet, the SLC Player of the Year, didnt have his best game of the season with 4-of-13 shooting from the field but did shoot 9-of-11 from the free throw line which definitely helped his team down the stretch. Brown, who along with Mallet was a regular season All-SLC first-team selection, hit four-three pointers as well as 10-of-12 free throws.Mallet and Brown played better than theyve been playing the last three games and that was the difference. They played well, Marlin said.Despite the high scoring numbers put up by Wall and Burkhalter, neither one had his best shooting game of the season. Wall was just 6-of-17 shooting from the field and Burkhalter 11-of-24. Sometimes the ball falls and sometimes it doesnt, Wall said. I didnt have my best game by far. I got what I wanted, I just couldnt capitalize.Fobbs finished with 9 points for the Bearkats, Brian Jordy added eight and Demetrice Sims pitched in with seven. Notes: Tournament champion Northwestern State was pounded 96-54 by Illinois in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite the loss in the championship game, McNeese State earned a birth to the National Invitational Tournament where they were defeated 84-74 in the first round last Wednesday by Texas-El Paso.Wall was selected to the all-tournament team thanks to his 45 points against UT-Arlington in the first round and 24 against the Cowboys.

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