CONWAY, Arkansas – A little slippage did not cost the Northwestern State men’s basketball team Sunday afternoon.
For the second time in as many days at the Central Arkansas Classic, the Demons held on for a victory, surviving a late-game push from Bethune-Cookman to collected their fourth straight win with a 69-66 triumph.
“We don’t make it easy,” first-year head coach Corey Gipson said. “There are times when we’re up six or eight, and we should go up 12 or 14. When we get the lead, we need to stop having slippage we can counter. What I mean is we have to have to be more disciplined. We don’t have to take quick shots on offense. We don’t need to gamble for steals on defense.”
The Demons (5-2) secured their best seven-game start to a season since the 2005-06 season by taking advantage of second-chance opportunities.
Northwestern State outrebounded the Wildcats (3-4) by 12 and turned their 18 offensive rebounds into 16 points, a plus-6 advantage in that category.
Dayne Prim led the Demons with a career-high 12 rebounds, part of his first double-double in an NSU uniform. Prim was one of five double-figure scorers for Northwestern State, hitting five of nine shots – including both of his 3-point tries – to finish with 15 points.
“We’re deep, real deep,” Prim said. “We have so many threats offensively. I’ve been slacking lately (rebounding). Just working hard down there, everybody fighting. Me, Jalen (Hampton), Reggie (Hill), everyone crashing makes it easy to grab a board.”
Northwestern State twice built double-figure leads – a 26-15 advantage with 6:26 to play in the first half on Emareyon McDonald’s left-handed layup and a 60-48 bulge on the strength of four straight DeMarcus Sharp points with 6:28 to play – only to see the Wildcats answer each time.
Bethune-Cookman used a 15-4 surge across 3:39 of the first half to regain the lead at 30-29.
The Wildcats looked to do the same in the second half, cutting NSU’s 12-point advantage to three on two occasions in the final 1:46.
Each time, the Demons used the free-throw line to their advantage.
After Prim split two free throws with 1:34 to play, Isaac Haney calmly swished four free throws in the final 33 seconds to secure the victory.
Haney’s perfect finish at the line came after a 6-for-14 performance at the stripe in Saturday’s 74-66 overtime victory against tournament host Central Arkansas.
“I’m really thankful for (graduate assistant) Joey (Heimel), our video coordinator,” Haney said. “He came and got me about an hour and a half before the game and rebounded for me. It kind of flushed yesterday for me. I had an opportunity with the shot clock winding down where I was about to attack.
“The other coach took it upon himself to foul me. My competitive nature came out. I don’t think I should be fouled in that situation.”
Haney’s 4-for-4 performance at the line highlighted an 8-for-11 team effort at the stripe as the Demons took advantage of their time at the line.
Haney had a team-leading 16 points, joining Prim, McDonald (14), Hampton (career-high 13) and Sharp (11) as the only Demons to score.
“I think Haney was tired (Saturday),” Gipson said. “We played him a lot of minutes. Today, his legs looked a lot fresher, but knowing him, he may have skipped out of curfew and found a high school gym or an outside rim to shoot on. He’s one of those type of guys. He’s always ready for the moment.”
The Demons return to action Thursday when they travel to Nacodgoches, Texas, to face former Southland Conference rival Stephen F. Austin. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. as NSU wraps up its season-long, five-game road trip.
Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services