NSU defeats Auburn 111-92 behind West's career high - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

NSU defeats Auburn 111-92 behind West's career high

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Northwestern State erupted in the final 16 minutes, erasing a 14-point deficit behind career scoring nights from guards Jalan West and Gary Stewart to trigger a 111-92 basketball victory at Auburn Friday night.

 

West, last year's Southland Conference Freshman of the Year, poured in 30 points on 10 of 15 shooting (5-8 on 3-pointers), and added a career-best nine rebounds along with six assists and three steals from his point guard slot. Stewart, a senior, added 23 points, also going 5 of 8 on 3s while shooting 7 of 11 from the floor and 4-4 at the free throw line.

 

Northwestern (2-0), bidding for a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, outscored Auburn (1-1) by 72-44 in the second half, sinking 68 percent of its shots in the final 20 minutes. The visitors shot 50 percent overall, along with making 25 of 29 free throws, their last 14 straight.

 

The Demons, who led the nation in scoring in the regular season last year, posted their first win over a Southeastern Conference foe since a 76-75 overtime triumph at Mississippi State early in the 2005-06 season.

 

 NSU snapped an eight-game skid against SEC teams heading into a visit to LSU (0-1) Saturday night at 7 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The Tigers topped the Demons 102-95 last season.

 

True freshman guard Zikiteran Woodley added 18 points in 16 minutes for the Demons while senior guard Brison White had 16 points and a career-high seven rebounds. Senior forward DeQuan Hicks scored 14.

 

"This was special," said NSU's 15th-year head coach Mike McConathy, the winningest coach in Louisiana college basketball history. "It's one of those games that nobody thinks you're supposed to win, but you better believe you can. We came in expecting to win, with all due respect to Auburn. You have to bring that mentality.

 

"It means you're for real. It's a different day when you get a win like this. It's a road win, and in college basketball you're not supposed to win on the road, and certainly not by a margin like that," he said. "It's only one game, but it shows we're capable of being the team we hope to become when it matters most in March."

 

The Demons wiped out a 63-49 deficit, the Tigers' biggest of the night, with 16:26 remaining. West and Stewart each scored five, both draining 3-pointers, in a 10-0 burst that got NSU within 66-63. The visitors drew even at 73 on a Stewart 3 with 9:36 to go, and went ahead to stay with six straight points, four by Woodley, to move on top 86-80.

 

Twelve unanswered points in just over two minutes pushed the Demons into a commanding 103-87 lead at the 1:47 mark. NSU sank its last 14 free throws in the final 3:39 as Auburn tried in vain to rally.

 

After going 0-17 on 3-pointers in last Friday's opening win over Division IIII LeTourneau, NSU sank 14 of 27. 

 

"We can shoot the basketball. We were 86 percent at the free throw line tonight, 85 percent last game. I knew we weren't going 0-17 on 3s again. That law of averages came into play," said McConathy.

 

Northwestern, outrebounded 64-50 by LeTourneau, was edged 43-42 on the boards by the Tigers. 

 

"If there's ever been a picture of what it meant to get a defensive rebound, it was tonight. They didn't get the second chance points after halftime," said McConathy. "The biggest difference was we rebounded in the final 20 minutes.

 

The double-digit deficit didn't discourage the Demons, he said.

 

"I never felt like we were not within range. We were continuing to run, and I felt like we were wearing them down a bit," said McConathy.

 

Auburn got 29 points by Chris Denson and 21 from KT Harrell. The Tigers shot 46 percent overall, 53 percent in the first half and 40 percent afterward.

 

The win wasn't the biggest margin for Northwestern against an SEC opponent. That came in 1957, in a neutral site 103-73 rout of LSU.

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