The Demons did it in resounding fashion, dismantling a red-hot Nicholls team 92-61 while sinking 64 percent of their shots as seniors William Mosley (career-high 20 points) and Louis Ellis (17) put an exclamation point on their Prather Coliseum appearances to the delight of a crowd of 1,542 fans watching along with a Southland TV audience.
Northwestern (16-14 overall, 8-7 in the Southland) surged in the last five minutes before halftime to turn a nine-point lead into a 43-24 advantage, then blew it open by scoring the first nine points of the second half to go up by 28 on a Mosley slam dunk. The spread climbed above 30 with 15:36 left, went as high as 42 at the 4:42 mark, and was at 40 with two minutes to go before Nicholls (10-18, 6-9) closed with the game’s last nine points as the Demons ran down the shot clock while unsuccessfully trying to get reserve David Ulak his first college points.
That was the only thing that didn’t go well for the Demons.
The final margin was the biggest in a Southland Conference game for NSU in its 25-year league history, topping a 103-73 rout of McNeese that clinched the 2005 Southland championship in the regular-season finale. It was an epic turnaround from last Wednesday’s mortifying 50-37 home loss to Sam Houston State in which NSU set an NCAA record by missing all 26 of its 3-point tries, shooting 19.7 percent overall.
The Demons had looked sharp offensively much of the way Saturday night at regular-season champion Texas-Arlington, but couldn’t sustain it in a 79-70 loss. Against Nicholls, which had won its last five SLC games, Northwestern sparkled for 40 minutes, scoring the game’s first eight points, sinking 57 percent overall including 7-of-11 on 3s in the first half, and canning 70% overall in the second half while finishing 11-for-18 (61 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.
“I hope we shed the cocoon and became the butterfly,” said 13th-year Demons coach Mike McConathy, who posted his 200th career win at NSU.
There were two keys to the breakthrough triumph, he said.
“We defended. We got in the passing lanes and we took them out of what they wanted to do. They do a great job of guarding us in our power, the best in the league, and we went away from it, did some things offensively we hadn’t done, and got the ball inside to Mosley. They had no match for it. That was the biggest thing.”
Northwestern had 27 assists on its 35 baskets, including 11 on the first 12. Junior point guard Shamir Davis led the way with seven dishes, while sophomore guard Tyler Washington posted a career-high five as 10 Demons recorded at least one.
“We just needed to get our chemistry back,” said Mosley, whose two blocks raised his NCAA career fifth all-time total to 456 . “We started to find it at UTA and it flowed from the opening jump tonight.”
The Demons wrap up their regular season with a visit to one of the nation’s top defensive teams, Stephen F. Austin, Saturday night at 6. NSU will play a quarterfinal round game in the conference tournament next Wednesday in Katy, Texas, with semifinals the following night and the championship game next Saturday afternoon.