KATY, Texas – Northwestern State’s Robert Chougkaz scored a career-high 14 points for the short-handed Demons, but Texas A&M-Corpus Christi made more than half their shots as NSU fell 89-67 on Thursday in the first round of the Southland Conference Tip-Off event.
The Demons (3-12) move into the consolation bracket and will face Incarnate Word (3-12), who was drubbed Nicholls in their first matchup, 87-56.
The 1:30 p.m. matchup will be broadcast on ESPN+ and aired on 95.9 FM
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Against the Islanders, Chougkaz shot 5-8 from the floor, but the Demons overall made just 38 percent.
After making vast improvements in perimeter shooting in the last three games, the Islanders defense smothered NSU as the Demons shot just 5-21 from deep.
“Chougkaz did some really good things and played with confidence, and that start building when he made 3-pointers against Texas A&M and Baylor in the last two games,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “Shaun Riley also gave us some really good minutes, and these guys can be great additions for us in conference play.
“But we struggled with a lot of things tonight after I felt like we were in good shape coming in. Corpus was quicker than us tonight, and it showed.”
The Islanders pushed the ball successfully, which assisted their 51 percent shooting from the floor.
Without the inside presence of NSU freshman post Kendal Coleman, TAMU-CC’s Isaac Mushila went wild with 27 points and 13 rebounds.
Coleman and fellow starter Jalen King missed the game with COVID-19, but each player is expected to return for Friday’s contest.
Mushila was joined in double figures by De’Lazarus Keys (12 points) and Trevian Tennyson (11 points). Islanders forward Terrion Murdix added 11 rebounds as TAMU-CC outrebounded the Demons by 14, including 24 points off 17 offensive rebounds.
For NSU, LaTerrance Reed scored 12 and Carvell Teasett added 10 points, although he shot just 3-13 for the field.
After falling behind early 17-7, the Demons crawled back in it with an 8-2 run, seven points coming from Chougkaz and Riley.
Another Chougkaz field goal cut the Islanders lead to 31-29 with four minutes left in the first half before TAMU-CC ended the period on a 12-5 run to hold a 43-34 halftime edge.
Chougkaz’s previous career high was 13 points against Champion Christian in 2020.
NSU never got closer than eight early in the second half as they dropped their third straight game.
After struggling to get to the free-throw line for much of the season, NSU made a season-high 20 free throws on 29 attempts. The 20 made free throws matched NSU’s season-high in attempts, taking 20 against ULM.
But the Islanders were equally aggressive, making 24-32 free throws.
PHOTO: Erik Williams/Southland Conference