BEAUMONT, Tx (NSU) - Northwestern State overcame a tidal wave of first-half adversity and a 15-point second-half deficit Wednesday night, but Lamar recovered for a game-ending 15-7 run over the final 4:21 and prevailed 75-70 in a Southland Conference basketball battle.
The Demons (9-16 overall, 4-8 in the Southland) erupted on a 23-5 run over 8:21 and claimed a 63-60 lead with 5:55 left, but then was stymied by defense from Lamar (13-12, 6-6).
NSU’s misery index skied in the first half. While the Demons committed 17 turnovers, the league’s top rebounder and scorer, senior Ishmael Lane, being saddled with three quick first-half fouls that benched him for 16 of the first 20 minutes.
The Cardinals didn’t take full advantage, leading by only 40-31 at the break.
“We gave up the basketball at a horrible rate in the first half, and Ish didn’t get a chance to play, but at least our effort was terrific and that helped us stay in the game,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy.
Lamar followed the hot shooting of senior guard Nick Garth (23 points) to a 55-40 advantage with 13:40 remaining, before NSU roared back.
“The kids really played hard. We had a stretch where we were playing some sensational basketball,” said McConathy.
“We locked down defensively and created turnovers. We converted points off turnovers. We rebounded very well against the best rebounding team in our conference. But we didn’t keep the throttle down.
“As long as we were behind we were playing free and aggressive, and once we went ahead that changed and we turned it over three times in a row. We didn’t do well in the halfcourt game and give Lamar credit for some of that.”
Seniors Malik Metoyer (12 points), Lane (11 points, all in the second half, 8 rebounds) and DeAndre Love (9) led the comeback. LaTerrance Reed had 10 points for the Demons.
“Ish had a monster second half after he spent basically the entire first half sitting out with fouls. That’s the only thing that can stop him,” said McConathy.
Lamar scored six unanswered points to go up 66-63 with 2:21 left, but NSU twice drew back within one, the last time with 16 seconds left after Lane bombed in a 3-pointer cutting it to 71-70. But Hunter Jordan capped a 19-point night with four straight free throws sandwiched around a missed trey by Lane that could have tied the game with six seconds to go.
Jordan, who was 9-of-10 at the line, sank his last two with 1.5 seconds left in the ninth NSU game in 12 league outings decided in the final minute.
The Demons made only three turnovers in the second half while surging into the lead, but had five in the final five minutes and finished with a season-worst 25. Lamar outscored NSU 22-15 in points off turnovers and had 14 steals.
NSU next plays at home Saturday against rival Stephen F. Austin, which beat McNeese Wednesday night. The Demons will try to sweep the season series from the Lumberjacks after Lane’s tip-in at the buzzer was the difference in a Jan. 12 61-59 NSU victory at SFA.