CONWAY, Ark. – With career scoring highs from junior guard Gary Stewart and sophomore center Marvin Frazier, including consecutive 3-pointers by Stewart on three straight second-half possessions, Northwestern State outran Central Arkansas 100-88 Saturday afternoon in Southland Conference basketball.
The Demons (10-5 overall, 4-1 in the Southland) built a 34-14 lead and weathered repeated rallies by the Bears (5-9, 0-4) in a matchup of the league's top two offenses and two of the country's top 30 scoring teams (NSU fifth, UCA 27th).
Ending a demanding stretch of seven games in 14 days, Northwestern won for the fifth time in that span and took its seventh victory in nine tries. The Demons drained 55 percent (12-22) of their 3-pointers, with Stewart making 5 of 8 while posting 19 points.
He was one of six double-figure scorers and one of six Demons to make a 3-pointer. James Hulbin scored 17 points, while Gary Roberson added 13, Shamir Davis 12, Frazier 11 and DeQuan Hicks 10. Northwestern recorded 21 assists on 29 baskets, and also sank 30 of 37 free throws.
"We moved the basketball beautifully at a few points and very well most of the day," said Demons' coach Mike McConathy. "That gave us easy baskets and good looks from outside. Gary was wide open when he hit those three in a row."
Northwestern had a season-best 12 made 3-pointers and the 3-point aim was also a season high, as was the 30 made free throws. NSU's 82 percent free throw shooting neared its best mark, 83.3 percent, and was 16 percentage points above the Demons' average of 66 percent.
Davis and Jalan West each had six assists as NSU posted its third 100-point game of the season but its first in league play since a regular-season conference championship-clinching 103-73 rout of McNeese at the end of the 2005 campaign.
Hicks topped the winners with eight rebounds while Stewart threatened his career best with seven. He sank 6-of-10 shots from the floor and made his only two free throws.
The Bears got 22 points from Robert Crawford and 21 by LaQuentin Miles, who had a game-best eight assists.
The 20-point lead was the biggest of the day. UCA got back within 47-38 at halftime and cut the spread to 49-44. It was 60-54 when Stewart unleashed his three straight 3-pointers and Davis added a fourth, but the Bears hung within nine until a Roberson free throw followed by a Frazier jump shot to move NSU ahead 77-65 with 11:12 left. It never got closer than 10 afterward.
"UCA is at least as athletic as any team we've played, and we needed to be very good offensively to win up here," said McConathy. "Unlike Thursday night (a loss at Oral Roberts when NSU went 10-12 on free throws), we got to the line a lot and had a great day shooting 3s, so we got a nice win to come home with."
The Demons are home for the next two weeks. They play host to Nicholls State next Thursday night and Southeastern Louisiana next Saturday.