Northwestern St win ninth straight, retain SLC lead - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Northwestern St win ninth straight, retain SLC lead

[Information provided by Northwestern St.]

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Jalan West led a first-half eruption by league-leading Northwestern State Tuesday night as the Demons ran out to a 21-point advantage and held off Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 82-71 for their ninth straight Southland Conference basketball win.

Northwestern (19-6 overall, 13-2 in the Southland) zoomed up 53-32 at halftime and weathered comeback efforts that brought A&M-Corpus Christi (4-20, 3-11) as close as nine points down the stretch. West scored 17 points, including a clinching 3-pointer with 1:31 remaining to rebuild NSU's lead to 12, and he added five assists with no turnovers.

The victory moved Northwestern into a half-game lead in the Southland standings pending Stephen F. Austin's Wednesday night visit to Sam Houston State. It matched the best regular-season winning streak by the Demons in their 37-season Division I history, nine in a row at the end of the 2005 league season and at the start of the 2005-06 campaign. It's the most consecutive wins in a single season for NSU since 1959-60, a team that finished 23-5.

DeQuan Hicks and James Hulbin scored 11 and Gary Roberson had 10 as the Demons won on the road for the third time in six games. NSU snagged 11 steals, nine in the first half, and forced 17 turnovers by a squad leading the Southland by averaging 11.9 per game.

Northwestern scored 18 unanswered points to surge on top 20-4. The Demons shot 51.5 percent in the first half and 47 percent overall, draining 7 of 16 on 3-pointers in the first half to follow a miserable 1-17 outing Saturday in a comeback win at Nicholls State. The finished 8 of 20 behind the arc, with West making half his six tries and draining all six of his free throws.

"Jalan had an outstanding game tonight, and managed the end of the game brilliantly," said Demons' coach Mike McConathy about his freshman point guard. "That 3-pointer basically sealed the deal but he also guided us into chewing a lot of time off the clock when they had a chance to get closer."

NSU got four steals, all in the first half, by Hicks. Eleven of 12 Demons who played scored, all by halftime.

But the Islanders rallied with four in double figures, led by 15 by Nate Maxey and 14 from Joy Williamson. They had 14 offensive rebounds, nine after halftime, while outrebounding the Demons 37-29.

"We fell asleep at the wheel and Corpus Christi did the best job of anybody we've played this year of executing their stuff, and they were super on the offensive glass," said McConathy, whose 571st career win moved him within one of the state record for collegiate coaches set by Grambling legend Fred Hobdy. "We slowed our game down late which is difficult for us to do, but time was more valuable than points. This was a very good game for us, because they're playing their best basketball now having won two of the last three and competing very well in their recent defeats."

NSU won for the seventh straight time away from Prather Coliseum while making only nine turnovers.

The Demons set up a showdown with SFA for the league lead on the road March 2, the fifth consecutive road game for NSU. Saturday, Northwestern steps away from league play in the Bracketbusters presented by Ramada Worldwide, visiting Niagara in a 2 p.m. CST game on ESPN3.

The Islanders will be the Demons' next homecourt opponent on March 7, before the regular season ends Saturday, March 9 in Prather Coliseum against Sam Houston State as NSU celebrates its basketball centennial.

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