Slow start dooms Northwestern State at SMU

DALLAS – After nearly delivering a knock out blow at Tulsa on Wednesday, Northwestern State didn’t fare as well in its second game against an American Athletic Conference opponent Monday at SMU.

The Mustangs scored the first 16 points en route to a 95-48 win as NSU went scoreless for the first 6:46 of the game.

The Demons missed their first nine shots with three turnovers after strong starts against Oklahoma and Tulsa to start the season.

“NBA guys say it’s the fourth game of a road swing that kills them, and maybe that happened tonight,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy, whose Demons have played four games (three road) in seven days. “We’ve been talking about ‘Rocket Rules’ from one of my friend’s sons Hayden Slack, and one of those rules is ‘Do your best.’

“We didn’t do our best tonight, and SMU did their best.”

SMU didn’t exactly torch the nets in the early going, shooting 41 percent. But the Mustangs crashed the glass with eight second-chance points in the first 11 minutes to help build a 20-4 lead.

SMU outrebounded the Demons 31-13 in the first half and 55-25 overall, including 17 offensive rebounds. It’s the largest rebounding margin against NSU since Texas snatched 31 more in 2018.

Freshman center Kendal Coleman scored NSU’s first six points and grabbed its first four rebounds.

Coleman scored a team-high 20 points to lead the Demons in scoring in all four games. It’s his second contest of 20 points or more this season after a career-high 22 points at Tulsa.

Coleman shot 10-of-15 from the field and is 29-of-42 against Division I opponents.

“Kendal really is that good, and he played hard and competed,” McConathy said. “We’ve got to get some things going around him and work harder to get better.

“Hats off to SMU because they played really well.”

The Demons sliced SMU’s lead to 12 with an 8-4 run, but the Mustangs quickly quieted the spurt with a 14-0 run.

SMU generated 19 fast break points in the first half and assisted on 13 of its 18 buckets.

Guard Kendric Davis had 14 of his 19 points in the first half and flirted with a triple-double in the opening period with eight assists and six rebounds. He finished just one rebound shy of a triple-double, which would be the first against NSU according to school records. Davis had 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Davis was one of five SMU scorers in double-digits with Marcus Weathers (22 points) leading the way. SMU finished shooting 52 percent from the field.

NSU turned the ball over just nine times while generating 11, but SMU scored a lot in transition off of long rebounds.

“I think that’s the biggest thing we need to learn from is transition defense,” McConathy said. “That and being better on the defensive glass.”

Rebounding had been a strength so far this season, including outrebounding a large Oklahoma front.

The 47-point loss is NSU’s worst since falling by 50 at LSU in 2019 and tied for the fourth worst of the McConathy era.

After being one of the most active teams in the country with four games in the first seven days of the season, the Demons will get three solid days of practice before welcoming Louisiana Tech to Prather Coliseum on Friday.

The game is part of the Lanky Wells Memorial Classic, a multi-team event involving NSU, Tech and ULM.

The Demons finish the event Nov. 22 at Ruston against ULM.

Wells was a McConathy teammate at Louisiana Tech and joined NSU’s staff as he finished his undergraduate degree as a Demon.

Photo: George Walker/