AUSTIN, Texas – Despite a great first half, the Northwestern State men's basketball team could not maintain its momentum in the second half as the Demons fell to third-seeded Florida 79-47 on Friday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Frank Erwin Center.
NSU finishes the season at 23-9 as just the 10th Demon squad to record over 20 wins.
The Gators (27-7) advance to the third round of the tournament and will match up against the winner of Friday night's UCLA-Minnesota contest on Sunday.
"I am really proud of our team for competing hard," said Demon head coach Mike McConathy. "A lot of people will say we got whooped pretty good but the important thing is that we came out and competed and play hard.
"We played against an extremely well-coached team and that is quite obvious. Their bulk and strength, over the course of the game, just really got us in the second half and we got ourselves in a situation where we weren't making shots."
Florida's Eric Murphy put up a game-high 18 points while also pulling down eight rebounds.
DeQuan Hicks led NSU with 12 points and eight rebounds; he was the only Demon to score in double-figures.
"We had a good run at the beginning of the second half," said Hicks. "After that it just seemed like the buckets weren't falling for us but that's how it goes sometimes. They made a run and pulled away and we weren't able to make our run."
Although they never managed to gain the lead, the Demons kept the first half close, tying the game up twice.
A three-pointer by Florida's Mike Rosario gave the Gators their biggest lead of the half at the 32-24 mark.
NSU responded with a 4-0 run to trim the deficit to four until a series of Florida layups set the score at 40-32 heading into the locker room.
When the Demons started the second half with two buckets in a row it looked as though their momentum from the first half had carried through, unfortunately that was not the case.
A dry spell from the 12:14 mark until a free throw by Shamir Davis at the 5:46 mark led to 16 unanswered points by the Gators, allowing to pull ahead 68-42.
One layup and two free throws by Hicks gave the Demons their final score of 47 with four minutes remaining in the game.
Florida closed out the game on a 9-0 streak, putting the score at 79-47.
NSU made just three field goals in the second half, shooting a season-low 18.8 percent.