The Northwestern State men’s basketball team proved Saturday evening defense never rests

Facing their final non-Division I opponent of the season, the Demons ran away with a 104-50 victory against visiting Southwestern Adventist. Despite topping triple digits for the first time since March 7, 2020, Northwestern State could credit its defensive effort for the lopsided final result.

“I thought we sat down and guarded,” head coach Mike McConathy said. “Coach (Tyler) Woolridge, they do a really good job in their offense with back cuts and shoot the ball really well. We came out and they made their shots early in the game. It was 15-14 at one point and, from that point, we did a better job of sitting down and not getting beat. We contested shots better.”

The Demons (3-9) held a 15-14 lead with 11:32 to play in the first half after Levi Rogers connected on a jump shot.

From there, Northwestern State locked down the visiting Knights, setting off a 26-0 run across the next 8:35 that effectively put the game away in the first half. Fueling the long period of dominance were eight fast-break points as the Demons leaned into their physical advantage.

All told NSU outscored the Knights, who played the game as an exhibition, 18-3 in fast-break points, 56-8 in the paints and 23-8 on points off turnovers.

“It was a role reversal for us,” said senior guard LaTerrance Reed, who finished with nine points and added a highlight-reel block late in the game. “We expected to win like this, but it was more about us focusing on defense, focusing on small things. We played really well defensively at LSU. We had to clean some things up tonight, and we were able to do that tonight.”

The Demons’ massive first-half run allowed McConathy to play 15 players, all of whom earned at least 6:20 of playing time and all of whom scored.

Freshman guard Emareyon McDonald paced the lengthy list of NSU scorers with 14 points while Kendal Coleman notched a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double in less than 17 minutes of game action. Justin Lamb was Southwestern Adventist’s lone double-figure scorer, hitting four 3-pointers en route to a 12-point.

Paced by McDonald and Carvell Teasett (12), the Demon bench did much of the offensive work Saturday.

Included in NSU’s 65-17 advantage in bench points were the first five points of Fred Ford’s Demon career and five from Cooper Smith, matching his career high set earlier this season. Ford’s first bucket was a 3-pointer – the Demons’ 11th of the game, a season high.

NSU’s defense led to a 60-35 advantage on the backboard and to a strong second half shooting performance as the Demons connected on 54.8 percent of their second-half shots (23-for-42). Overall, NSU produced a 51.9-percent aim from the field (40-for-77), a high-water mark for the season.

“We preached defense from the beginning,” said junior point guard Brian White, who had four of NSU’s 27 assists while not committing a turnover. “Sometimes our shots don’t fall, which has happened in our bigger games. Defense led us to great offense tonight.

“It’s always good to see those guys (Smith and Ford) get a chance. They give it their all every day in practice. To see them score and have a smile on their face, it lifts up the whole team.”

The Demons return to action Tuesday night when they travel to face Texas A&M. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. inside Reed Arena.