In a season in which Northwestern State hadn’t found a way to win on the road, the Demons proved once again Saturday that they can finish games in the home confines of Prather Coliseum.
NSU never trailed against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in a 90-76 win, pulling away in the final five minutes after the Islanders slashed the Demons’ lead to two.
The Demons (6-16, 2-3 Southland Conference) ended the game on a 20-8 run, which included 10-11 free throw shooting in that run. It’s second straight game NSU has blown out its opponent in the final minutes after losing leads to UNO and Southeastern this season. The Demons bested UIW on Thursday with the help of a 27-11 run to the end the game.
“We’re playing a little bit calmer, and think about if knew how to win early,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “But remember that we’ve got six newcomers and a few returners who are playing much larger roles.
“That’s part of it, and we’re getting better and better as the season goes along.”
Free throws have been a sore spot as the Demons made just 63 percent coming in, but NSU drained 20-25 from the line to nearly cancel out the Islanders 22-25 effort. TAMU-CC (16-6, 3-2 SLC) was nearly doubling NSU in makes per game coming in.
Carvell Teasett scored a career-high 27 points, including 10 points in the final five minutes. He made 9-10 from the free-throw line and 4-8 from 3-point range.
“This is very big for us because (TAMU-CC) thrives off turnovers, so we wanted to limit our turnovers,” Teasett said. “We’ve been preaching discipline and staying together, that’s been the key.
“It felt good tonight. I was shooting some crazy stuff, but it was going in, so that felt really amazing.”
NSU committed just 11 turnovers against a TAMU-CC squad that ranks in the top 5 nationally in turnovers forced. NSU led 17-12 in points off turnovers, cashing in on 15 Islanders mistakes.
“They force over 20 turnovers per game, so we did phenomenally in that area,” McConathy said. “We jumped to the ball and met the ball, we were strong with it.”
Islanders forward Isaac Mushila scored a second-chance bucket to cut NSU’s edge to 70-68 before the Demons’ strong finish.
Mushila snatched 16 rebounds to go with 13 points and helped TAMU-CC to a 20-11 edge in second-chance points.
Brian White’s alley-oop to Kendal Coleman on a breakaway salted the game away to lead 82-74 under a minute remaining.
White accounted for a career-high eight assists to pair with 14 points, including a layup 30 seconds earlier that padded a six-point lead.
White and Teasett combined for 6-10 shooting from 3-point range to bolster NSU’s 10-22 performance from deep. It’s the second straight game NSU has made 10 3-pointers while shooting at least 45 percent.
“It means a lot because it makes us feel great and shows us that we can protect our home court against the No. 2 team in the league,” White said. “Tonight was a true definition of ‘We not me’ because we can get production from anywhere and we all love to see each other score.
“We’re showing our discipline, and we’re fighting these games out.”
Eleven different Demons scored with seven scoring six or more points. Senior Larry Owens had nine points with Jovan Zelenbaba (four rebounds) and Cedric Garrett each scoring eight.
Zelenbaba made two 3-pointers in a four-minute span midway through the second half that thwarted Islander comeback attempts.
Garrett made 5-6 from the free-throw line and was part of the late-game parade to the line.
Coleman contributed seven points and five rebounds in just 18 minutes because of foul trouble, missing most of the second half on the bench.
But the Demons drew from their depth.
The Demons defense also showed up, forcing TAMU-CC to shoot 42 percent from the field with NSU making 49 percent.
NSU scored the game’s first nine points, all from White and Teasett off 3-pointers or free-throws from a 3-point attempt.
The Demons never trailed in the half, extending a 19-16 lead to 30-18 with five White points in the 11-2 run.
TAMU-CC won the first meeting in the SLC Tip-Off event by 22 points when the Demons were without starters Coleman and King.
King opened the game with a 3-pointer.
Photo: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services