LUBBOCK, Texas – The Northwestern State men’s basketball team checked off a few items on its to-do list against No. 24/25 Texas Tech in the season opener Monday night.
The Demons started fast and forced turnovers throughout, but the Big 12 Conference member Red Raiders utilized their size advantage and pulled away for a 73-49 victory at United Supermarkets Arena.
“We are better than I thought we were,” first-year head coach Corey Gipson said. “Just the fact we took care of the ball against the No. 1 defensive team in the country (is a positive). We’ve got to do a better job of guarding without fouling.”
Northwestern State (0-1) won the turnover battle, forcing 20 Texas Tech turnovers, but the Red Raiders had a 20-point advantage in the paint.
That – coupled with a hot shooting first half from 3-point range – proved too tough for Northwestern State to overcome.
“We were not the more physical team,” Gipson said. “We forced 20 turnovers against a top-25 team. That was the goal. Our goal, on the other side, was to leave with 10 turnovers. We were only plus four on that.”
The Red Raiders came out firing quickly, connecting on seven of their first 10 shots. Texas Tech also connected on five of nine 3-pointers in the first half, building a 19-point halftime lead.
The Demons started as the hotter-shooting team as Ja’Monta Black connected on his first two 3-point attempts in an NSU uniform. Black’s second 3, a bucket from the left corner, gave the Demons a 6-5 lead at the 17:29 mark of the first half.
NSU pushed the lead to 8-5 on Dayne Prim’s baseline jumper – his first points as a Demon – with 16:42 to play in the half.
Texas Tech then took over, going on a 10-0 run across the next 3:14 and never trailed again.
“This was a learning experience for us,” Gipson said. “What I was really proud of was that not one time did our guys complain about anything. It shows the resiliency and maturity of the guys on the team.”
Isaac Haney, another of the Demons’ newcomers, tallied a game-high 16 points while Black added 12. Emareyon McDonald had all nine of his points in the second half, connecting a trio of 3-pointers.
The Demons shot 10-of-36 from beyond the arc.
Daniel Batcho produced an efficient double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds on 4-for-5 shooting from the field to pace the Red Raiders.
The Demons return to action Thursday when they host Ouachita Baptist at 12 p.m. The game will be an Education Day game that will feature a STEM fair in the corridors of Prather Coliseum.
Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services