Northwestern State loses lead late in loss to New Orleans

KATY, Texas – Northwestern State shot above 50 percent for the vast majority of Saturday’s game against New Orleans, but when the Demons had three chances to win the contest in the final seconds, NSU couldn’t find the bottom of the net.

Cedric Garrett grabbed offensive rebounds off misses by LaTerrance Reed and Carvell Teasett, and Reed’s floater at the buzzer clanged off the iron as New Orleans handed NSU the 80-79 loss in the consolation bracket final.

“We did a good job today and showed a lot of improvement,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “We come back from an early deficit and lead for most of the game before New Orleans made a comeback of their own late.

“We did a really job on the boards and had three shots on the final possession, and we got looks that we wanted. They just didn’t fall.”

The Demons (4-13) finished the Southland Conference Tip-Off event 1-2 after its opening-day loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and a final-minute win against Incarnate Word.

NSU pushed to a 77-73 lead under five minutes remaining with seven straight points on a 3-pointer from Teasett and buckets from Kendal Coleman and Brian White.

UNO made just one field goal in the last six minutes, but the Privateers (6-8) sustained themselves at the free-throw line. Five of UNO’s last seven points came from the stripe, and the Privateers made 22-30 for the game.

UNO’s Derek St. Hilaire scored 25 of his 31 points in the second half, including 13-16 free throws overall. NSU attempted just nine free throws as a team, making eight. It’s the first 30-point scorer against the Demons this season and the first 30-point scorer since Houston Baptist’s Darius Lee dropped 30 in the SLC opener this past season (Jan. 2).

Coleman logged his second straight double double in the event with 20 points and 12 rebounds after missing the opening contest Thursday. He also collected a double double against UIW with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Teasett scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half to help NSU to a 37-33 halftime lead, including nailing one of his five 3-pointers in the final seconds.

After not playing Friday against UIW, senior Larry Owens contributed 12 points and nine rebounds.

“That tells you all know need to about our team right there in that Larry didn’t play (Friday) because of matchups, but we’re deep enough to have a guy like Larry play a central role (Saturday), and that’s beautiful,” McConathy said. “We did gain some confidence in this tournament, and we made the most out of a bad situation.

“We had a lot of balls slip through our hands or get batted away, but it wasn’t from a lack of effort.”

Trailing by six late in the first half, NSU put together a 22-6 run that leaked into the second half to build its largest lead at 45-35. Seven different Demons scored to contribute to the spurt. Teasett scored seven points in that stretch.

But UNO slowly chipped away at the Demons’ lead before the Privateers accumulated 10 of their 12 points from the free-throw line midway through the second half.

St. Helaire connected on three free-throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer to pull within 66-65 before two layups handed UNO its first lead of the second half with 8:26 remaining.

NSU held a plus-seven in rebounding and turned 15 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points.

Joining St. Helaire in double figures was Troy Green (14 points on 7-11 shooting) and Tyson Jackson (10 points on 5-7 shooting).

The Privateers found enough transition buckets as they scored 25 points off 18 NSU turnovers and won the battle in the paint 46-32.

NSU starts Southland Conference play Jan. 15 at Southeastern before making a second South Louisiana swing to Nicholls and UNO the next weekend.

PHOTO: Erik Williams/Southland Conference