Big 2nd half sinks NSU at UNO

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NEW ORLEANS -- In a game with 17 lead changes and 11 ties, Northwestern State couldn’t overcome a couple of rocky patches down the stretch as third-place New Orleans posted a 72-64 Southland Conference basketball win Wednesday night.

After being out of contention in the closing minutes of their last two games, the Demons were down just 64-62 with 54 seconds left after a pair of Ishmael Lane free throws. But the Privateers raced downcourt, took advantage of a defensive lapse and got a three-point play from Gerrale Gates eight seconds later, starting a game-ending 8-2 burst to settle the outcome.

Lane’s free throws culminated a rally from an 11-point deficit with 4:25 remaining to within one possession, but UNO (11-9 overall, 6-3 in the Southland) stood its ground to get the win.

The Privateers grabbed the lead for good with 7:43 left, early in a game-altering 17-3 run over four minutes. UNO scored 11 unanswered points in the decisive run that doomed the Demons (7-14, 2-6).

NSU coach Mike McConathy said his team stagnated offensively and UNO took full advantage.

“We had a stretch of 2-3 minutes where we couldn’t get a shot off, because guys were standing around waiting for somebody else to do something. All we got were two desperate heaves on 3-pointers at the shot clock buzzer. That stretch cost us that game.

“We weren’t getting back on defense, and that allowed them to score. They just jammed the ball down our throats and we didn’t have an answer for that,” said McConathy. “We missed a key block out on the defensive end and instead they got a two-possession lead and it was off to the races until the hole was almost too big to overcome.”

Lane had 17 points and 15 rebounds, posting his fourth consecutive double-double performance.

UNO had a pair of 17-point scorers, Bryson Robinson and Ezekiel Charles. Robinson drained 5 of 11 3-pointers. Damion Rosser added 13 points for the Privateers.

“We were in a good position when we went up 50-47, but you have to give UNO credit. They made a lot of good decisions and were physical and tough,” said McConathy.

“We’ve got to be tougher with the ball. This has become a very physical league again and we are struggling with that aspect.

“We had some guys really compete. But we had some who slipped out of gear when we were up three. I liked our effort, our aggressiveness, but we didn’t sustain it for a full 40 minutes, and we’re still not tough enough with the ball.”

The Demons were outshot 42-37 percent overall but limited their 3-point tries to 15 and made five, an improvement over the 18 percent behind the arc in their last three outings, all losses.

NSU and UNO will stage a rematch next Wednesday night in Natchitoches. Saturday, the Demons play at Central Arkansas.