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Demons eye seventh straight win as SFA visits Prather

Jovan Zelenbaba had six key points in Northwestern State’s 86-80 win against Houston Baptist on...
Jovan Zelenbaba had six key points in Northwestern State’s 86-80 win against Houston Baptist on Monday.(Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services)
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 2:17 PM CST
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NATCHITOCHES, La (NSU) – The Northwestern State men’s basketball team’s current six-game win streak has been built equally on the strength of its late-game performances and its adaptability.

Win No. 4 in the streak came after an 11-day break while the most recent victory came after a nine-day hiatus between games. Now the fun really begins for the Demons, who host Stephen F. Austin in Southland Conference action at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Prather Coliseum.

Natchitoches Regional Medical Center is the presenting sponsor of Wednesday’s game and will give away T-shirts while supplies last. The game can be heard on 95.9 FM and the Demon Sports Network. Free streaming audio and subscription video is available through www.NSUDemons.com and the Northwestern State Athletics mobile app, which can be downloaded free for Apple and Android devices.

The Demons (8-14, 7-4) have not lost a game since visiting Stephen F. Austin (13-3, 9-1) on Jan. 20. Because of COVID and weather issues, the Demons have played just six games in the past 29 days.

NSU’s period of sporadic play came to an end Monday in an 86-80 win against Houston Baptist that started a run of six games in the final 12 days of the regular season – something that is music to the Demon players ears.

“A week off is nothing when you’re used to quarantining for three months,” said junior guard Trenton Massner, who recorded his first double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds against Houston Baptist.

“We would rather play. The last couple of weeks haven’t been ideal, because when you’re not playing, you’re practicing. We’d rather be playing.”

Northwestern State’s six-game win streak is its longest since a nine-game run from Jan. 19-Feb. 19, 2013. Standing in the way of moving the run to seven is a Lumberjack team that is one three Southland squads with just one loss in league play.

In SFA’s 86-74 victory on Jan. 20, the Lumberjacks shot 60 percent from the field and had 50 points in the paint. SFA enters Wednesday’s rematch as the top shooting team in the Southland Conference the No. 2 shooting team nationally at 53.2 percent.

“Coach Kyle Keller’s team is extremely strong and physical,” 22nd-year head coach Mike McConathy said. “I feel like we are a little different team than we were then. We were trying to find ourselves at that point. Our guys will come in and try to compete against a very well-coached and talented team.”

While the Demons’ roles have become more defined, the players have bought into those roles. Northwestern State’s largest margin of victory during its six-game win streak has been eight points, allowing for a variety of players to contribute to those victories.

Freshman guard Carvell Teasett was the latest to do so, pouring in a career-high 25 points and hitting five straight 3-pointers in the second half against Houston Baptist. Teasett also sealed the Demons’ victory against McNeese on Feb. 13 with a last-second steal.

Those plays followed the lead of Dalin Williams taking a game-sealing charge at Central Arkansas on Jan. 30 and a pair of Kendal Coleman free throws at Southeastern Louisiana on Jan. 23 as key moments in the Demons’ run.

“They’re buying into it,” McConathy said. “They see if we win ballgames, it makes it a lot more fun for everybody. I’m really pleased with the general attitude, enthusiasm and the concern and care for one another.

“I always said if you care about each other, you pull for one another and you love one another, you can be really successful.”

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