LAKE CHARLES – James Hulbin and DeQuan Hicks combined for 34 points, 18 by Hulbin, to lead five double-digit scorers as Northwestern State won its fourth straight game, 86-74 at McNeese State on Sunday afternoon.
The Demons improved to 14-6 overall and 8-2 in the conference as Brison White scored 13, Shamir Davis 11 and Gary Stewart 10, and Jalan West recorded a career-best nine assists.
Northwestern kept pace with the league co-leaders, Stephen F. Austin and Oral Roberts, both at 9-1 in Southland play. The Demons host ORU Thursday night at 7:30 in Prather Coliseum.
NSU, sweeping the season series with McNeese for the first time since 2006, led all but two minutes of play, building a 42-28 halftime advantage despite 37 percent shooting. The Demons sank 52 percent afterward, but so did the Cowboys, who trailed by 69-50 with 8:12 remaining but fought back within 80-73 with 1:12 to go.
"The reason we made our runs was good defense, and we didn't maintain that intensity, but you have to credit McNeese for doing a very nice job of fighting back and making us play 40 minutes," said Demons coach Mike McConathy.
NSU sank six straight free throws, four by Hicks, after McNeese closed the gap to seven. The Demons, shooting 67 percent at the line this season, drained 24 of 29 Sunday, including 15 of 17 in the second half. Davis went 8-of-10 while Hicks hit all six of his tries.
"Shooting 83 percent on the free throw line is really good and helped us deal with not making many 3-point shots (3-of-16) in the first half. It also helped us hold off their run at the end of the game," said McConathy.
McNeese slipped to 8-12 overall and 2-8 in Southland play despite 22 points from Dontae Cannon and 15 from Craig McFerrin, while Desharick Guidry and Adrian Fields each scored 12.
In addition to Thursday night's home game against Oral Roberts, Northwestern will host Central Arkansas next Saturday afternoon before a stretch of five straight road games.