Sam Houston State pounds the boards to drop Northwestern State, 75-52
HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Northwestern State’s intensity and aggression was impressive. Sam Houston State responded, and then some.
After a gritty first-half performance, the Demons faltered as the Bearkats powered away for a 75-52 Southland Conference basketball win on their homecourt.
Sam Houston won its fourth straight and improved to 11-8 overall and 5-1 in the Southland Conference. The Demons slipped to 3-14 overall, 0-6 in the Southland with their ninth straight loss.
NSU stayed within range in the first half with a 23-20 rebounding edge, although the Demons struggled offensively with 27 percent aim, including missing all eight 3-pointers.
The Bearkats took control afterward. Sam Houston got 21 of the first 27 rebounds and finished with a 30-14 advantage on the boards in the final 20 minutes, including 17 on the offensive glass, allowing them to get 44 shots to 22 by the Demons.
“We’re just not physical enough. I can’t tell you the number of times we had our hands on the ball and didn’t pull away with it,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy, whose team was down by no less than 16 points for the final 10 minutes of the contest.
NSU junior center Ishmael Lane had his sixth double-double performance of the season and second straight with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Iziahiah Sweeney scored 13 while Larry Owens added 10, all in the second half, for the Demons.
Sam Houston got 17 points and 15 rebounds from Chris Galbreath Jr. as the Bearkats won despite 38 percent shooting aim.
“We’ve played five really good first halves. The second half, we have hit a lull each time and tonight it was more glaring than it has been, because Sam Houston was very good, very, very physical, very, very aggressive and took control,” said McConathy.
“The frustrating stat is giving up 17 offensive rebounds (after halftime). That’s just not going to get the ball,” he said. “I know they want to do it, and we need to figure out what it takes to be better after halftime.
NSU was hampered by 19 turnovers, while Sam Houston had only nine. The Demons were 2-of-15 on 3-pointers compared to 7-of-23 by the Bearkats.
“We gave up too many points in transition. We didn’t make our share of 3-pointers and we hurt ourselves with turnovers, some which you credit to Sam Houston playing outstanding defense, but too many that we could have been avoided,” said McConathy.
“Larry Owens stepped up and played with a little of the moxie he played with before Christmas. That makes us better,” he said.
NSU plays another road game Saturday at 5 at Southeastern Louisiana, then is home twice next week, next Wednesday against defending champion New Orleans and on Jan. 27 against Central Arkansas.
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