SFA gets physical to ease past Demons

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – There was plenty the Northwestern State men’s basketball team did well offensively Wednesday night, especially in the second half.

However, homestanding Stephen F. Austin had an answer for every Demons push as the Lumberjacks worked the ball inside time and again, setting them up for an 86-74 win against Northwestern State inside William R. Johnson Coliseum.

“I thought we did some good things offensively,” said 22nd-year head coach Mike McConathy. “We had 17 turnovers and 10 of those just made no sense whatsoever. I think we’re mind-whipping ourselves to death. They don’t want to make a mistake. They want to win. They want to get it done.”

The Lumberjacks (8-2, 4-0) shot 60 percent from the field, powering the ball inside for 50 points in the paint, building a 20-point advantage in that area.

SFA’s proficiency inside helped it push back the Demons (2-14, 1-4) at every turn.

After falling behind by seven early in the first half, Northwestern State roared back to tie the game, setting up a trend that continued throughout the final 30-plus minutes, right to the final buzzer.

The Lumberjacks built a 19-point lead – their largest of the game — with 2:14 to play before the Demons mustered one final run to cut it to a 12-point final margin on Jordan Potts’ 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Each time NSU threatened, it seemingly came from a play made by a freshman.

Carvell Teasett posted a career-best 11 assists, marking the first double-figure assist game by a Demon this season, while fellow freshman Kendal Coleman dropped in 15 points and grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds, marking his highest-scoring game in Southland play.

Coleman’s three-point play with 14:32 to play – coming off a Teasett feed – pulled the Demons within six before the Lumberjacks turned to their defense to spark another mini-surge.

After Jamaure Gregg (18 points) grabbed a missed free throw, Gavin Kensmil snared Gregg’s outlet pass and was fouled, turning the turnover into a pair of points.

Stephen F. Austin forced 17 Demon turnovers, turning them into 21 points while the Demons mustered just 12 points off 16 Lumberjack miscues.

Additionally, the Demons netted only two double-figure scorers for the second straight game as Teasett and LaTerrance Reed just missed the 10-point plateau, finishing with nine points.

“Jamaure and Kendal did some good things, and Carvell is a very talented young man,” McConathy said. “(SFA) is big. They’re strong. They do what they do, and they do it extremely well.”

Cameron Johnson led SFA with 26 points as all five Lumberjack starters reached double figures, scoring 82 of the Lumberjacks’ 86 points.

“It was an extremely physical game,” McConathy said. “We didn’t match their physicality. Our zone helped us in the second half, but we settled behind their post guys. If they catch it, they’re going to put the ball in the hole.

“I told them the only thing I’m disappointed in is the fact we gave up so many easy buckets. We didn’t quit. We continued to compete and do the little things that kept us in striking distance. We just didn’t strike.”

The Demons wrap up their final multi-game road trip of the season Saturday at Southeastern Louisiana. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. inside the University Center.