Northwestern State can’t overcome slow start in loss to Louisiana Tech

NSU 32 Larry Owens MT 24 Cobe Williams

Northwestern State suffered through another nightmarish start and couldn’t recover against Louisiana Tech, falling to the Bulldogs at home Friday 83-64 to open the Lanky Wells Memorial Classic.

Louisiana Tech (3-1) answered Kendal Coleman’s opening salvo with 15 straight points and protected its double-digit lead the rest of the night.

The Bulldogs made three of their seven first-half three pointers during the early run as Amorie Archibald and Keaston Willis made three each in the first half. Both had 11 points in the opening period as Archibald finished with 17 and Willis 15 points.

Archibald drained a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to push Tech’s edge to 43-23 as NSU never sliced Tech’s edge within 10 points after the Bulldogs’ initial surge.

“Our mindset to start wasn’t very good,” said NSU associate head coach Jeff Moore, who was in the top chair filling in for the vaccinated Mike McConathy, who missed the game with a breakthrough COVID-19 positive test. “We were not moving the ball early, and we definitely weren’t guarding well enough, which contributed to our stagnant offense.

“Our posts (Larry Owens, Kendal Coleman and Zurabi Zhgenti) were working hard tonight, but we couldn’t get enough defensive stops to get back in it.”

That initial push included the Demons (1-4) starting 1-of-5 from the floor with four turnovers and being outrebounded 8-2.

NSU clawed its way back in the rebounding category (won 36-33) and heated up from the floor in the second half (53 percent), but the Demons couldn’t string together buckets and defensive stops.

Friday’s matchup featured two of the best posts in the state in NSU’s Kendal Coleman and Tech’s Kenny Lofton, Jr., but NSU senior Larry Owens didn’t want to be left out.

Owens led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting to go with five rebounds.

“We’ve got to bring it in the first half because the way you start the game will determine how it will go,” Owens said. “In order for this game to be a good one for us, we had to start well.

“Each wave has to come out with energy, and we didn’t tonight.”

Lofton recorded his second double-double of the season with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 11 rebounds and two blocks.

Coleman played just seven minutes with foul trouble (two fouls), garnering two points and two rebounds. He did reach double figures with 10 points and nine rebounds with a better second half as he’s scored in double figures in each of the first five games.

Lofton encountered first-half foul trouble of his own, but he collected seven points and nine rebounds in 12 minutes in the opening frame.

NSU senior LaTerrance Reed added 10 points and four assists. Louisiana Tech’s David Green (10 points) joined those three other Bulldogs in double figures.

NSU was unable to start a run Friday as the Demons didn’t score on consecutive possessions without a Tech point until the 13-minute mark of the second half when Larry Owens followed a bucket with a free throw.

The Demons outscored Louisiana Tech by one in the second half, holding the Bulldogs without a 3-pointer until the four-minute mark.

Louisiana Tech turned a season-high 16 NSU turnovers into 19 points with a 17-5 edge in fast-break points.

The Demons strong second-half rebounding showing provided 14 second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds.

NSU completes its role in the Wells event with a Monday trip to Ruston to face ULM at 2 p.m. Lanky Wells was a Louisiana Tech teammate of McConathy and later finished his undergraduate degree at NSU while serving as an assistant on McConathy’s staff for the 2008-09 season.

This is the first season Tech’s event was named after Wells, who died in 2017 after heart issues.

PHOTO: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services