The Huskies (4-12, 1-3 Southland) shot 54 percent overall, 14 percentage points over their average, and surpassed their season’s scoring average (62) early in the second half. The Demons (5-10, 1-3) lost for the second straight time by giving up an abnormal offensive performance to a low-scoring foe.
Houston Baptist sank 7-of-11 on 3-pointers while scoring 24 points more than it had in any other game this season. The Huskies sliced through NSU’s fullcourt press for the game’s first 16 minutes, going up by 15 with 4:10 left in the half, and weathered some Demon surges afterward. NSU got as close as three once, and within four on three occasions coming down the stretch, and took its only lead of the second half on Hicks’ basket off Jalan West’s eighth assist with 16 seconds to go.
The Huskies didn’t call timeout, moved downcourt, and Russell took a 16-footer from the corner in front of the HBU bench in the last three seconds. The ball glanced off the side of the rim, past a Demon underneath, and back into Russell’s hands, allowing him to lift the game-winner with 0.7 second left. NSU couldn’t get a shot away following a timeout.
Russell scored 16. The offensive rebound was his only one of the game. Marcel Smith had 21 points and Rob Lewis 20 for HBU, which held a 39-31 rebounding advantage and benefitted from 1-for-12 aim on 3-pointers by the Demons.
West scored a career-best 31 points, going 9-for-9 at the free throw line, all in the second half. Zeek Woodley poured in 24, making 11 of 13 shots from the field, while Hicks had 20 points and a team-best eight rebounds.
“Their team played a great game, and as they took advantage of our poor defense in the first half, their players gained confidence and even when we went away from the press, they continued to hit mid-range jumpers and nail the 3-pointers,” said Demon coach Mike McConathy. “They got 16 offensive rebounds. That contributed to their great shooting night.
“I don’t think any of us saw us being 1-3 in the conference, but that’s the reality of it. I’m as bumfoozled as I’ve ever been with a basketball team. These are nice young men who collectively have to buy into the concept of playing team defense, and until they do that we’re going to struggle like we are right now.”
The Demons come home for their only game next week against old rival and defending Southland regular-season champion Stephen F. Austin, who went to 4-0 in the league with a win Saturday night at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
“There are 14 conference games left. We have a lot of work to do and this team has shown, at times, and not lately, that it is very capable of defending well, of rebounding well, of playing high caliber basketball and not just on offense,” said McConathy. “There are a lot of frustrated, heartsick young men in that locker room. I liked the way we battled back tonight. Nothing wrong with our effort and as long as we work together, we can work through this.”