NATCHITOCHES – After erasing a two-game skid in its most recent game, the Northwestern State men’s basketball team looks to “White Out” Southland Conference rival New Orleans on Wednesday.
The Demons (3-14, 2-4) and Privateers (4-10, 3-3) tip off at 6:30 p.m. inside Prather Coliseum, which is expected to be awash in a sea of white as part of the White Out game, presented by Shop-A-Lott.
Shop-A-Lott will provide 100 T-shirts for fans attending the game, which can be heard on 95.9 FM and the Demon Sports Network.
Northwestern State enters Wednesday’s game after a 73-68 win at Southeastern Louisiana that showed the Demons’ improvement in myriad areas.
In addition to shooting a season-best 55.6 percent from the field, Northwestern State proved capable of handling adversity. The Demons built a 21-point, first-half lead only to see Southeastern Louisiana take a pair of two-point leads with less than five minutes to play.
NSU closed the game on a 9-2 run to even its Southland Conference road record at 2-2.
“You have to take care of the opportunities you have,” 22nd-year head coach Mike McConathy said. “We did that the other night. If we could have put that together against other teams, we might not be sitting at 2-4 in conference play.”
The NSU backcourt has dealt with minor injuries the past couple of weeks, but the Demons’ depth has shone in those moments.
Freshman Carvell Teasett posted a career-high 11 assists at Stephen F. Austin on Jan. 20 before LaTerrance Reed tied a season high with 11 points in Saturday’s win at SLU.
Reed hit three 3-pointers in the victory, which came in his first start since Dec. 12. In his past two games, Reed — a senior from Buffalo, New York – has connected on four of seven 3-pointers.
McConathy noted a trend in the Demons’ two Southland victories, aside from them coming in road games.
“It’s interesting, but if you look at our wins against McNeese and Southeastern, we shot 14 and 13 3-pointers, respectively,” McConathy said. “It results in a win. What that’s telling me is that less is better. If you’re making every one you throw up there, that’s a different story. That hasn’t been the case for us.
“We’re shooting a dismal percentage from the 3-point line. We felt that would be a strength of ours coming into the season, and I still think it is a strong point, but we have to get some confidence and start making shots.”
The offensive confidence may have dovetailed with an overall confidence boost on the NSU bench.
McConathy pointed to a moment during a late SLU run where Larry Owens, who finished with a team-high 14 points, told his teammates, “we’re good,” as a potential turning point.
“When everything was starting to unravel, he said that, which is an indication of a team that doesn’t have confidence,” McConathy said. “For Larry to say that vs. me saying that is enormous. Peer support is so much more important than me telling them how good they can be. That comes from one of their brothers on the team.”
The Demons will need that same type of confidence when they face a Privateers team that had won three in a row before falling to Nicholls on Saturday.
“They’re really, really hard-nosed,” McConathy said. “They compete. They’ll knock you in the mouth. They’re going to compete. The key for us is will we know what our strengths are? Will we execute the game plan? Who’s going to be tougher?
“In the second half of the SFA game, I told the guys you have to be tougher and want it more than the other team. I saw some things in the Southeastern game where we wanted it more. We need to build on that against UNO and coach (Mark) Slessinger’s team.”