BATON ROUGE – Cedric Garrett scored eight of Northwestern State’s first 11 points as the Demons hung around early with No. 19 LSU, but the Tigers flexed their defensive and rebounding muscles en route to an 89-49 win Tuesday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Garrett’s first three points coupled with a LaTerrance Reed 3-pointer handed NSU (2-9) an early 6-4 edge, but the Tigers (10-0) turned nine NSU turnovers into 13 first-half points while crashing the offensive glass for an additional 11 points to build a 41-15 halftime lead.
The Demons challenged LSU early defensively, forcing three turnovers and another three errant shots as the Tigers had six points in the first 3:45.
But LSU put together a slow burn 25-4 run to end the half as the Demons shot just 6-32 (19 percent) from the field in the first half.
“LSU is pretty dang good, but there are positives we can take out of this game,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “We attacked some things that LSU does really well, like we had only three or four turnovers against their press.
“(LSU coach Will Wade) said we performed their best against the press of any opponent this season. But we couldn’t stay in front of them when they decided they were going to drive to the bucket no matter what.”
NSU created open looks throughout the period, but Demons not named Garrett (3-7) or Kendal Coleman (2-3) combined for 1-22 shooting in the first half.
Coleman logged his third double-double of the season with a team-high 16 points on 8-11 shooting and 12 rebounds.
Garrett added 15 points, including 8-of-10 from the free-throw line and added four rebounds.
LSU’s Xavier Pinson scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half on 5-5 shooting, including three 3-pointers.
Other double figure LSU scorers include Tari Eason (game-high 18 points on 7-9 shooting), Efton Reid with a double double (15 points and 10 rebounds) and Darius Days (13 points) as the Tigers drilled 45 percent from the field.
The Demons kept pace with LSU on the boards for the first 30 minutes, even outdoing the Tigers on the offensive glass in the first half (8-6). But the Tigers built a 14-rebound edge and scored 29 second-chance points on 19 offensive boards.
NSU did have 17 second-chance points, it’s highest against a Division I opponent this season, on 14 offensive rebounds.
“Kendal Coleman snatched some rebounds, and it felt like he showed signs of doing good things,” McConathy said. “You can’t be too frustrated when other guys go 1-8 or 0-7 shooting against this LSU defense, but Kendal shot 8-11, so maybe we should try to get him 20 shots versus some of the other guys taking as many as they did.
“But Jovan Zelenbaba (nine points and four rebounds) was another guy who did some good things after going through some struggles. That was great to see tonight.”
After Kendal Coleman opened the second half with a 15-foot jumper, LSU went on a 10-1 run highlighted by 3-pointers from Darius Days and Mwani Wilkinson to lead 51-20.
Zelenbaba scored all nine of his points in the second half, combining with Coleman and Garrett to score 40 of NSU’s 49 points.
After shooting 19 percent in the first half, the Demons did warm up to 38 percent in the second half and scored 34 points.
Mostly against LSU’s press in the second half, NSU surrendered just four points off its eight turnovers, the majority of which didn’t result in Tiger run-outs.
NSU returns to Prather Coliseum to host Southwestern Adventist on Saturday at 6 p.m. as part of a split doubleheader with the Lady Demons hosting Tarleton State at 1 p.m.
Tickets are $1 and gain entry to both games.
PHOTO: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services
PHOTO does not show NSU vs LSU
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