Demons dominate Warhawks for first win, 76-61
MONROE – The Northwestern State basketball team arrived, five games into the season, Tuesday night.
After an alarming season-opening skid, NSU executed a mass jump-stop, dominating ULM from start to finish in a 76-61 road win at Fant-Ewing Colliseum.
“That’s a program win, right there,” said 19th-year Demons coach Mike McConathy. “That was as good an all-around performance, especially with our halfcourt defense, that we’ve had in 3-4 years. I could not be more proud of these young men.”
NSU (1-4) opened with a 12-4 spurt, then exploded on a 12-2 run into a 26-9 lead just over eight minutes into the game. ULM (1-3, coming off an 11-point home win over Southeastern Louisiana) never got closer than 13 afterward. The margin was as big as 22 with four minutes remaining.
The nation’s fourth-youngest team, with six freshmen, followed its veteran leaders.
Ishmael Lane topped NSU with 17 points and eight rebounds, adding three blocked shots. Jalan West scored 16, issued four assists and made three steals.
Iziahiah Sweeney added 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal. Devonte Hall contributed 11 points and three assists.
“We were locked in during warmups. You could see and feel the focus and determination,” said McConathy. “They’ve been frustrated by the way our season started, and tonight they fought and fought and played a very strong 40 minutes of basketball.”
In their first four games, the Demons had suffered from self-inflicted damage, giving up an average of 21 points off turnovers. Tuesday night, NSU owned an 18-4 advantage in that stat, a swing of 35 points.
West, playing in his second game after two years away following a pair of knee surgeries, was in command handling the ball in his 30 minutes.
“Jalan did a great job managing the game, moving the ball, finding the open men, and made a few sensational shots and plays,” said McConathy. “And we had guys who didn’t stat out big, like Brandon Hutton, who were very impactful with their effort. Ishmael Lane was the dominant inside force that he can be. Iziahiah had three tremendous putback baskets that stemmed from his relentless effort.”
ULM coach Keith Richard applauded NSU’s performance.
“They looked like a team that was 0-4 and not at all happy about it. They came to play. They got the 50-50 balls. They locked down defensively and they played with great desire,” he said.
NSU shot 47.5 percent overall, making 39 percent (7-18) on 3-pointers. The Demons had a 37-32 rebounding advantage, outscoring ULM 38-26 in the paint and 14-7 on second chance points.
ULM made only 39 percent of its shots, 26 percent (7-27) on 3s.
The Demons hit the road after the game to Dallas, to fly out for a Friday night game at Colorado State.
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