Northwestern State opens home slate Saturday against Champion Christian

Northwestern State punched above its weight class in its first two road games in the state of Oklahoma, and the Demons will aim to take that momentum back home.

NSU (0-2) opens its home schedule Saturday against Champion Christian (1-3) at 7:30 p.m., the back end of a triple header that involves volleyball (1 p.m.) and women’s basketball (5:30 p.m.).

The Demons begin a robust five-game nonconference home slate that includes Louisiana Tech (Nov. 19) and Stephen F. Austin (Nov. 28) after going 6-4 overall in Prather Coliseum this past season.

“I am looking for ‘W’ first of all, but we’d love to see all the students out and packing the stadium for our first home game,” said NSU freshman center Kendal Coleman.

The Demons nearly delivered a knockout blow to Tulsa on Wednesday, leading with four minutes remaining before the Golden Hurricane closed in an 82-75 NSU loss.

NSU also performed well in its season opener Tuesday at Oklahoma, trailing by three at halftime before the Sooners pulled away to a 77-59 win.

Coleman grabbed the spotlight on the road trip, setting consecutive career highs of 19 points at Oklahoma and 22 points at Tulsa.

The Captain Shreve High product shot a combined 19-of-27 while grabbing 12 rebounds.

As NSU tests its blend of nine returners and six newcomers, sophomore guard Cedric Garrett has elevated himself in his two starts.

Garrett scored 18 points against Tulsa with eight rebounds as he made 4-of-8 3-pointers, embodying NSU’s improvement from the perimeter from the opener.

The Demons shot just 3-of-17 from deep at Oklahoma, improving to 10-of-27 at Tulsa.

“It’s been a long road trip, so it’ll feel good to be back at Prather in Natchitoches,” Garrett said. “We want to pack the stadium and will be looking for our first win of the season.”

NSU welcomes Champion Christian (Association of Christian College Athletics member) for the fourth straight year with the Demons winning those three meetings by an average of 35 points.

Twelve Demons have seen action so far with 11 players hitting the floor in both games as Mike McConathy is finding the 2021-22 mix.

McConathy, who is beginning his 23rd season on the NSU sidelines and 39th overall as a college head coach, is hoping his bench sees lots of action Saturday.

In the last meeting, forward Robert Chougkaz was the biggest beneficiary, garnering career highs of 13 points and nine rebounds.

Champion Christian, who will count Saturday’s game as an exhibition contest, has double-digit losses to an ACCA member (Ecclesia) and NAIA member (Williams Baptist) with its lone win coming against Campbellsville-Harrodsburg, a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association.

PHOTO: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services