Northwestern State has played much better after halftime in the past three games, but on Tuesday, the Demons didn’t wait until the intermission. NSU blitzed Louisiana College and built a 23-point halftime lead en route to an 84-64 win Tuesday in Prather Coliseum in its final game before Christmas. “I think we were a lot more aggressive defensively, and we attacked them,” said McConathy, whose Demons won two straight games for the first time this season. “Ten of 16 buckets in the first half were out of transition, that’s what’s called running our cycle. “We can make plays and make good things happen. We tend to be stagnant in the halfcourt, and we’re not very good in that setting.”
Senior center Ishmael Lane scored 11 of his 17 points to lead 10 different NSU (4-8) scorers in the first half. Lane added seven rebounds, teaming up with freshman Dalin Williams (seven rebounds) and sophomore Larry Owens (six rebounds) to produce a 51-35 rebounding edge over the smaller Wildcats. Lane and DeAndre Love each made two 3-pointers, including one each to kickstart a 14-0 run. NSU stretched a three-point lead to 29-16 and never looked back.
“We had to figure out how we played in the second half, and we had to play that way from the start so we wouldn’t have to play catchup at the end,” Lane said. “We’re a way better team we can score from inside and outside, and it’s a lot more fun when you’re not one-dimensional on offense.
“We had to lock in. We were up (at halftime), and people tend to settle, so we had to call timeout and get the back up to get the momentum.” Owens added 14 points and Love 10 points as 12 different Demons scored in the game. The Demons made nearly 49 percent from the field (16-of-33) in the first half, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range. NSU cooled in the second half, finishing at 46 percent (30-of-65) and just 6-of-23 from distance. Louisiana College challenged NSU to begin the second half, starting the period on a 19-6 run (54-44) to slash into the 23-point Demons edge.
NSU largely neutralized the Wildcats’ star post Devon Washington (averages 16.5 points per game and eight rebounds), but LC’s guard play and 3-point shooting helped the visitors climb back into the game. Sophomore Lashard Powell scored six of the Wildcats’ 19 points during the run with a bevy of other scorers chipping in. Washington finished with three points and two rebounds. The Wildcats never closed the NSU lead to single digits as the Demons responded and pushed the lead back over 20 points in the ensuing minutes. “Our size was one of the biggest things we had, and we went over that a lot in practice,” Owens said. We all needed to crash the boards at once.
“I was out there just having fun, and the coaches have been saying we need to enjoy ourselves more. We communicated better on defense tonight, and that’s something we needed to improve on.” LC (7-1) entered the contest on a seven-game winning streak (not including a 15-point exhibition loss at Southeastern Louisiana) with all of those games coming on the road.
Tuesday’s matchup counts as an exhibition for the Wildcats as well. NSU departs for Christmas and won’t play again for 12 days when they welcome Champion Christian College, a member of the Association of Christian College Athletics, on Dec. 30. Southland Conference play begins Jan. 2 when the Demons host Nicholls.