Northwestern State jumped on Nicholls early Thursday as Kendal Coleman scored the game’s first seven points on three Brian White assists.
But the Colonels commanded the game from that point, taking the lead, and after a brief back-and-forth, never relinquishing it again in a 80-62 Demons’ loss.
Coleman scored nine of NSU’s first 11 points as the Demons (8-21, 4-8 Southland Conference) led by as many as seven early.
But Nicholls’ Ty Gordon and Latrell Jones put on an offensive show for the remainder of the first half, and the hot shooting touch spread to others early in the second half as the Colonels (19-9, 9-2 SLC) built an insurmountable lead.
“Nicholls is a special team because they can get you from so many different angles,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “They are long and strong, and they’re just a bad matchup for us.”
Gordon poured in 21 first-half points on 5-8 shooting from 3-point range and 8-14 overall. He finished with 30 points and seven rebounds.
But it was Jones who sparked the Colonels, scoring seven of his 11 first-half points in a 13-3 run that handed Nicholls their first lead at 19-18. Jones recorded a double double with 19 points and 10 rebounds
Gordon commanded the latter part of the first half, scoring 17 points in the last 10 minutes to lead 49-31 at halftime.
“I felt like there were times where we could have prevented Gordon and other from getting into paint by closing out better, but Nicholls was able to shoot well and drive,” McConathy said.
NSU went cold during the latter stages, making just 2-12 and scoring six points in the last nine minutes of the first half.
That drought continued into the second half as the Demons missed its first 10 shots of the half as Nicholls extended its 18-point lead with an 8-2 run.
“I think we had some confidence issues shooting tonight, and Kendal didn’t get help from others,” McConathy said. “It’s encouraging that players came up to me after the game and acknowledged that they didn’t have a good night.
“Our point guards have played well this season but struggled tonight, but it’s something we’ve got to overcome and we’ll bounce back on Saturday.”
Nicholls used a breakneck transition game to create open looks, and the Colonels outscored NSU 13-0 on fastbreak points in the first half and 19-5 overall.
The pace slowed in the second half, where Nicholls’ defense was able to greatly affect NSU’s offense, which shot 33 percent from the field and 4-24 from 3-point range (17 percent). The four 3-pointers is NSU’s lowest in SLC play.
Coleman logged 19 points and 13 rebounds, his 14th in 19 games and 15th overall.
The Shreveport native shot 9-16 from the field, but the rest of the Demons made just 14-54 (26 percent).
Zurabi Zhgenti added eight points with 6-of-8 from the free-throw line, his highest point total in SLC play.
Jovan Zelenbaba chipped in eight points on 3-6 shooting.
NSU’s point guards have been the most efficient position this season, averaging 26 points per game in the last 18 contests.
But the trio combined for 3-20 from the field and just seven points.
Despite being outrebounded 50-43, the Demons matched Nicholls on the offensive glass (17-17) and held a 21-8 edge in second-chance points.
The Demons finish the weekend hosting first-place New Orleans on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Privateers are coming off an 84-79 loss at Southeastern and are now tied with Nicholls at the top.
PHOTO: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services