Lane has big night, but SMU dumps Demons, 69-58
DALLAS – Northwestern State didn’t have the depth it needed to top SMU Thursday night, but the Demons had the game’s dominant performer in a 69-58 defeat.
Senior center Ishmael Lane, a Preseason First-Team All-Southland Conference selection, posted game-high totals of 24 points and 13 rebounds, keeping NSU in range throughout.
The Mustangs got a combined 32 points by Jimmy Whitt Jr. (19) and Nat Dixon, and were able to pull away from a 26-all tie for a 34-29 halftime lead.
SMU, winning its season opener, surged out of the locker room, going on a 18-6 run over the first 5:38 to open a 52-35 advantage, the game’s biggest. NSU (1-1), coming off a 102-62 romp at home Tuesday over Division III Centenary, never got closer than 10 afterward.
“I was pleased with the effort, and more,” said 20th-year Demons’ coach Mike McConathy. “My biggest frustration is the mistakes we made not doing what we were supposed to do, and we didn’t get the loose balls for easy baskets. You can’t afford those in games against high-level opponents and get the outcome you want.
“But we had players with tears in their eyes, and when you have that, you have a chance to be good. The desire is there and we played with great desire tonight,” he said.
The Demons got nine points from sophomore Darian Dixon and eight by junior guard John Norvel, but were deficient on the boards, getting beaten 44-33. Aside from Lane, eight other NSU players combined for just 20 rebounds.
Lane made 7 of 15 shots, including 2 of 5 on 3-pointers, and drained 8 of 10 at the free throw line. He snagged 11 defensive rebounds and also blocked two shots and made two steals while playing 38 minutes, a career high, as NSU had only nine players available.
His scoring total raised him to 28th all-time at NSU while his rebounding work vaulted him into the school’s top 20, just one shy of 19th. He moved into a tie for seventh on NSU’s career blocks list with 107.
“Ish was the best player on the floor for either team. He had a huge game and gave us all we wanted,” said McConathy, who saw other positives for the Demons.
“We were aggressive attacking the basket. Our defense, in the zone, caught them off guard and we gave them a lot of trouble in half-court situations,” he said. “We just lacked the depth to get the game at the tempo we want to be disruptive.”
NSU had a slight 39.1-38.5 percent shooting advantage, but after hitting 4 of 11 on 3-pointers in the first half found the net only twice on 10 treys afterward. The Demons made 18 turnovers to 13 for the Mustangs.
The game launched a string of four straight on the road for NSU, which goes to BYU Tuesday night, then visits Rice next Saturday and Houston on Monday, Nov. 19. The Demons aren’t home again until Friday, Nov. 23 against Alabama A&M.
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