Frustrating, now that fits quite well. Northwestern mounted a 17-1 run to overcome a 13-point second-half Lamar lead, and held a 65-61 edge with three minutes to go. The Cardinals didn’t miss another shot until the last 10 seconds, running off 10 unanswered points while the Demons missed three shots, all with some contact by Lamar defenders, and committed their only two turnovers of the second half.
“Lamar did an excellent job, especially in the last three minutes, getting to the goal,” said 13th-year Demons coach Mike McConathy, whose team finished 16-16. “They were able to get the buckets in and get to the free throw line (sinking 7 of 9 in the last 1:02). We were attacking the glass but weren’t able to get to the line. We were trying to draw fouls and were unable to do that. They were. We weren’t able to match their scores down the stretch and my hat’s off to them.”
The Demons’ frustration was palpable but not overwhelming. Mosley, the Demons’ senior center who endured the unthinkable with the sudden deaths Saturday night of his nearly year-old twin sons, recorded a career-best 22 points. A dozen by Mosley came in the second half while fellow senior Louis Ellis pumped in all of his 15 points as NSU threatened to end a three-game winning streak by Lamar (21-11) and advance to a Thursday semifinal game.
“We wanted to win so badly,” said junior point guard Shamir Davis, who had 12 second-half points after going scoreless in the first half as he drew two quick fouls. “We were down nine or whatever it was, it didn’t matter. We’ve been down 19 and won, we’ve been up 17 and lost. It didn’t really phase us. We knew we could come back from any deficit. We just relaxed and had fun.”
McConathy said the trigger to NSU’s “valiant” run was simple: “We got the ball in and William really was dominant. We were getting stops and rebounds on the other end. Maybe the last three minutes we were a little winded, which is not typically the case, but we shortened our rotation and maybe that contributed to the way it ended.”
Mosley was sent to the bench with NSU up 52-49 at the 8:05 mark after getting hit for his second and third fouls in a 12-second span. He came back, only to draw the fourth foul with 4:07 left. Never having fouled out this year despite ranking second nationally with 4.1 blocked shots per game, Mosley watched from the side for another 90 seconds as Lamar (which, like NSU, wore memorial patches for Mosley’s twins on its uniforms) began its decisive run.
“He had drawn two fouls, boom, boom. He hadn’t fouled out this year but he had four and we needed him for the end,” said McConathy. “Hindsight’s 20-20, and I guess I should have just left the big horse out there and ridden him until they ran him out.”
“I was just feeling it, this whole game,” said Mosley, who sank 10 of 15 shots, including several mid-range jumpers, and made both of his free throws while snagging nine rebounds and blocking two shots. “I came out ready to play and they told me they were going to feed it to me. It’s a tough loss and it was a hard game.”
There were no tears from the Demons. They were all out. Instead, there were hugs and even soft smiles, especially about the game’s last play, Mosley’s first career 3-point try, which nearly went in at the buzzer.
Said Davis, like Mosley a Shreveport native and Huntington High School product: “I’ve been knowing him since even before we had facial hair. He’s done everything anybody ever could for his team, and when the year started, he told me he wanted to shoot a 3 in his senior season. It took until the last second, and the game was decided, so I got him the ball and it felt right to see him take that. The way he shot today, I’m surprised it didn’t go in.”
Davis called Mosley “a warrior man” and McConathy agreed when asked to assess what Wednesday’s performance said about the fifth-leading shot blocker (460) in NCAA history.
“Warrior is a great description. He never changes his resolve. He’s all business, all work when that’s needed. Otherwise, he makes it fun for everyone around him. He’s been through a lot in five years with us, nothing that compares to the last few days. He’s very genuine, very appreciative. They joke around and call him Will McConathy. He’s the kind of kid I would want to be my son. I’d put him alongside Michael and Logan. He’s that special.”