DALLAS, Texas – Northwestern State rebounded from a slow start and cut SMU’s lead to four points midway in the first half Tuesday in Moody Coliseum.
But the Mustangs ended the half with a strong surge en route to a 77-51 win against the Demons (2-5).
SMU (8-0), which received votes in the latest AP Top 25 poll, maintained its perfect record and stretched its 16-12 lead with a 19-5 run to end the first half and built a 17-point edge at the break.
CJ White scored five of his 11 first-half points during the run and finished with 15 points. Kendric Davis had all seven of his first-half points in the decisive run, ending with nine points, eight assists and six rebounds.
“We tried to slow it down early, but we ended up playing at that pace and not attacking once the clock ran down,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “We didn’t have pace and rhythm, and we didn’t take care of the ball.
“We only had one situation where we scored baskets on consecutive possessions. So even when we got stops defensively, we couldn’t grab momentum tonight.”
NSU made its early run (9-3 spurt) with significant help from Nikos Chougkaz’s hands. Chougkaz had two steals and two blocks, including a steal which led to a Chudier Bile dunk to cap a 7-0 run.
SMU led 13-9 before Bile answered an SMU 3-pointer with one of his own to slice the Mustangs’ lead to 16-12.
Bile led the Demons with nine points, but the junior forward fouled out with nearly 13 minutes remaining.
But SMU kicked it into gear and ended the half with a flurry to lead 35-17.
NSU matched SMU early in the second half, but the Demons weren’t able to come any closer than the 17-point halftime deficit after SMU went on an 11-4 run midway through the period.
The lengthy Mustangs dominated in the paint with a 40-24 edge helped by a 47-32 rebounding advantage and a 14-9 gap in second-chance points.
SMU turned 15 Demons turnovers into 16 points, many of those coming in transition.
NSU bright spots included freshman Robert Chougkaz, who scored his first career points and ended with five, including a three-point play.
Senior LaTerrance Reed made 2-of-4 3-pointers for six points after missing three games with a knee injury.
But NSU didn’t have an answer for an SMU squad that featured five double-digit scorers and shot 43 percent from the field and 20-of-24 from the free-throw line.
NSU will play its third straight road game Sunday at LSU in a 3 p.m. tip.
PHOTO CUTLINE: Nikos Chougkaz contributed seven points, two assists, two steals and two blocks in a loss Tuesday at SMU.
CREDIT: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services