NATCHITOCHES – From start to finish, the Northwestern State men’s basketball team did what it was supposed to Sunday afternoon.
Namely, the Demons used their superior size and athleticism to cruise to a 101-61 win against Champion Christian inside Prather Coliseum.
“There were some positive things,” head coach Mike McConathy said. “We shot the ball well from the 3-point line, 46 points in the paint. We outrebounded them by (19), and we were supposed to. In the first half, we mixed our zones up. In the second half, we primarily played man-to-man until the bitter end, which allowed us to guard smaller people on the perimeter.”
Whatever defense the Demons (4-7) played, they were successful.
Mixing zone coverages in the first half, Northwestern State limited the Tigers to 26.5-percent shooting (9-for-34) in the first 20 minutes. The second half was even better, as NSU’s man-based defense held Champion Christian to 24.2-percent shooting (8-for-33). All told, the Tigers connected on just 25.4 percent of their shots.
And when Champion Christian missed, the Demons put their size to good use.
Junior Larry Owens grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds, falling one point shy of his first career double-double. Owens was one of four Demons who grabbed at least eight rebounds, joining Nikos Chougkaz (9), Jamarue Gregg (8) and Gatdoar Kueth (8).
“It feels good, because we went into the gym and we decided we need to start a winning streak,” Owens said. “We won against Lamar, and we want to take it one game at a time. It’s gone from there.”
Owens hit four of six shots from the field, part of an NSU offense that blistered the nets at a 57.6-percent clip for the game. Included in that were 10 3-pointers, the most for the Demons since hitting 11 in a season-opening win against Centenary.
Two of those 3-pointers came from Grecian freshman Robert Chougkaz, who connected on all four of his shots and finished with a career-best 10-points.
“I got a lot of confidence form my coaches and teammates,” he said. “I always play with energy. I needed some time (to adapt to the American game), but now I’m gaining confidence. Larry Owens is one of the teammates who pushes me to play harder.”
Robert Chougkaz’ career game gave the Demons four players in double figures, led by Nikos Chougkaz and Chudier Bile, who finished with 15 points each. Jairus Roberson added 12, helping the Demons’ bench outscore Champion Christian’s reserves 59-32.
Champion Christian’s D’Andre Butler led all scorers with 18, hitting 11 of 13 free throws.
Northwestern State’s all-around effort gave it a second straight win before it returns to Southland Conference play Thursday night at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
“We came through (the break),” said McConathy, who collected his 299th career win at Northwestern State. “It was great to get the win against Lamar (last Saturday) and to come back and get the one today. We’ll go back and work on the little things to improve as we prepare for the game Thursday.”