The Demons (15-13 overall, 7-6 in the Southland) scored 100 points and shot 51 percent Saturday in an impressive 14-point win over 17-12 Campbell in a Sears BracketBusters game at Prather Coliseum. But Wednesday night, they managed to sink only 13 of 66 shots (19.7 percent) and were a miserable 11 of 25 (44 percent) on free throws.
Their previous season lows were 55 points, 33 percent shooting and a 1-for-11 showing on 3-pointers. A mediocre free throw shooting team all season (61.2 percent), NSU had made 68 percent from the line in its last three games.
The Bearkats (12-16, 6-7) struggled too, shooting 37 percent overall and only 41 percent (16-39) on free throws while making 23 turnovers. Sam Houston got 17 points from Demarcus Gatlin and 14 by Konner Tucker, while William Mosley’s 9 points was the best Northwestern could muster.
Mosley had 16 rebounds and blocked five shots to move into a tie for sixth place on the NCAA’s career blocks list with 452, just one away from matching Alonzo Mourning’s 453 for fifth place.
Antuan Bootle snagged 20 rebounds, 17 on the defensive glass, to help Sam Houston to a 55-46 rebounding advantage.
“We have to first give Sam Houston credit. They played hard, they played better than us, and no doubt they had something to do with our performance,” said Mike McConathy, who coached in his 400th game as the Demons’ coach late in his 13th season at NSU. “I’ve been coaching for 32 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m at a loss for words other to congratulate Sam Houston.
“I can’t put my finger on it, I just have no words for it. How you can go from the team we were Saturday, from a team that had our fans buzzing, to this, I don’t know. We had people excited and we laid an egg, a lot of eggs,” he said. “The kids played hard. Can’t fault the effort. We couldn’t play any worse offensively.”
The 37 points were the fewest posted by NSU since a 36-point total in a 2007 loss at Oklahoma State. The next lowest total came in 1972, in a 45-29 loss at Texas-El Paso.
“The tone of the game was set early. We didn’t pass the ball well and we didn’t get very good looks early, and it was all uphill,” said McConathy, whose team trailed 20-14 at halftime.
Tucker hit a 3-pointer to open the second half, and Sam Houston’s lead ranged between 7-13 points until the closing seconds, when the Bearkats went ahead 49-35.
The victory was the fourth in five league games for Sam Houston, while NSU dropped its fourth in a row in Southland play. The Demons will visit Texas-Arlington Saturday night at 7, facing a team that is 13-0 in league play and already holding the conference championship after a 93-89 win at McNeese Wednesday night.
NSU’s final home game is next Wednesday night against Nicholls.