The Demons (5-3) ended an 11-day break from competition, suiting up for the first time since a Dec. 4 homecourt victory over Louisiana Tech. The NAIA Vikings (5-9) counted the game as an exhibition.
Jalan West scored 14 with nine assists while James Hulbin and DeQuan Hicks each scored 12 and NSU picked up 11 apiece from Gary Stewart and Brison White. The Demons, the nation’s second-highest scoring team trailing only Indiana, reached their 85-point average with 8:22 remaining for their biggest lead of the day, up by 21.
Northwestern ended the first half on a 14-2 run, started the second half on a 15-2 roll and turned it over only twice in a 15-minute span closing the first period and running into the middle of the final half to take command. Missouri Valley hit eight of its first 10 shots from 3-point range to keep the lead much of the opening half, going up 40-30 with 6:32 showing.
Kevin Stander, who brought an 8-point average into the contest, led the Vikings with 22, including 6-of-11 aim on 3-pointers after he made his first four. Missouri Valley faltered after a near-perfect start, and was harassed into 15 turnovers in 13 minutes in the middle of the game, finishing with 23.
The Demons had 12 steals by nine different players. Senior O.J. Evans snagged a team-high seven rebounds.
The Demons shot 49 percent overall to 45 percent for the Vikings, who dipped to 37.5 percent after both teams shot 51.4 in the first half.
“Give their team credit for playing very well and forcing us to raise our level of play,” said Demons’ coach Mike McConathy, whose team won its second straight. “I am glad our guys responded and did the things we needed to get in control. We looked like a team coming off an 11-day break between games. Now we have an even longer break, and if we look sloppy in the next game, it’s going to be a very long ride home.”
NSU won’t play again until a Dec. 29 visit to Arkansas. The Demons’ last non-conference home game is Dec. 31 against LeTourneau before Southland Conference doubleheaders begin Jan. 3 at home against McNeese and Jan. 5 against Lamar.