Northwestern State aims to continue winning streak at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi today

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Freshman Jovan Zelenbaba knocks the ball away from a Rice player during a Nov. 12 home game. The Demons jump back into the Southland Conference play Thursday at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. CREDIT: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

A surging Northwestern State team that’s seemingly found its stride will attempt to keep its winning streak going today when the Demons visit Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

NSU (4-7, 1-1 SLC) won its past two games in victories against Lamar and Champion Christian, its first winning streak since taking three in a row from Dec. 15-30 of 2018.

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The Demons bump into an Islander (4-9, 0-2 SLC) squad trying to end a four-game slide, but three of those losses have come by six points or less.

TAMU-CC dropped close contests to Texas A&M (three points), Nicholls (six points) and Central Arkansas (four points) before falling at Nebraska by 21 points.

“(TAMU-CC) coach Willis Wilson will run his stuff, and they should have won against Texas A&M, a like opponent for us,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy, who surpassed the 650 career-win total Sunday and is just one shy of 300 wins on the NSU sidelines. “They pass the ball extremely well, and Myles Smith is a really good player.

“They attack and move the ball, and they take the air out of the ball and attack the clock. You have to rebound with them and stay in front of them. We can’t give up second chance opportunities against a strong, physical team. We have to take care of the ball.”

The Demons started their positive progression in a hard-fought loss at Sam Houston State before winning against Lamar and Champion Christian.

NSU’s offense is warming up, shooting better than 45 percent in its last three games after having five outputs below 40 percent in its first eight contests.

NSU shot 49 percent against SHSU, 45 percent vs. Lamar and 58 percent vs. Champion Christian.

Chudier Bile (11-13), Nikos Chougkaz (12-20), Larry Owens (5-7) and Robert Chougkaz (4-4) have contributed heavily to the accuracy improvement in the past two games. Jairus Roberson has improved significantly, shooting 9-of-20 and 7-of-16 from 3-point range in his last two contests.

The Demons’ defense is better, too, allowing 61 points each to Lamar and Champion Christian after allowing nearly 79 points per game in the first nine contests.

NSU forced CCC to shoot just 25 percent from the floor and 16 percent from deep.

While this season’s Islanders might be battling a four-game losing streak, they have a different type of streak in this series.

The Islanders have won the last six against NSU, although four of those games have been in the American Bank Center.

The last two meetings have come down to the final possession as the Islanders pulled out a one-point win this past season in Natchitoches and a two-point victory two years ago.

Myles Smith, who leads the Islanders with more than 15 points per game this season, hit a last-second shot two years ago to lift TAMU-CC to a win.

A win today would be NSU’s first 2-1 SLC start since 2014-15, but the victory could open the door to an even better start with a home game against winless Houston Baptist (entering Thursday’s play) on Sunday followed by a road game at Incarnate Word (3-9) next week.