COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Northwestern State cut the Texas A&M to eight points twice in the second half Tuesday, the last with seven minutes remaining.
But the Aggies proved to be too much down the stretch as NSU fell 80-61 at Reed Arena.
NSU pieced together a 12-5 run supported by huge 3-pointers from Carvell Teasett and Jovan Zelenbaba that fired up the Demon bench.
Zelenbaba’s trey sliced the Aggie edge to 64-56 with less than seven minutes remaining as NSU drained 8-21 from 3-point range.
Texas A&M got a huge boost from Manny Obaseki, who answered Zelenbaba with a three-point play to spark a 16-5 run to end the game. Obaseki scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half after entering the game with just 23 points this season.
“I thought we did a really good job of competing hard,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “We made some big shots, but there were opportunities we left out there that could have helped us, including making just 3-7 free throws.
“In the second half, Texas A&M worked the clock and then drove to the basket, and that’s really hard for us to stop.”
Teasett scored a season-high 15 points for NSU, including 3-9 from 3-point range with three assists but six turnovers.
Kendal Coleman logged his fourth straight double double and fifth this season with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the face of a constant double team. Coleman also has double doubles against LSU, ULM, Southwestern Adventist and Champion Christian.
The Demons were still hanging around at the four-minute mark, trailing 69-59 after a thunderous Zelenbaba dunk. Zelenbaba scored eight points, the last of which came on the dunk after a Brian White outlet, who tied his career-high with seven assists.
NSU assisted on 19 of its 25 baskets.
McConathy pointed to A&M’s transition offense before the contest and its ability to cash in on opponent turnovers.
The Aggies exchanged 17 NSU turnovers into 21 points. NSU forced 14 Aggie turnovers but mustered just four points.
“We did some really good things, but there were times where we didn’t manage the ball well, and we have to get better at that,” McConathy said. “We have some guys building confidence like Zelenbaba, Robert Chougkaz and Brian White, but we still haven’t found ourselves as a team yet.
“These guys have to understand where they can go with this and what their potential is.”
Obaseki was joined in double figures by Hassan Diara (12 points) and Tyrece Radford (10).
The Aggies, who have excelled from the 3-point line this season at 39 percent, made just 7-26 (27 percent). But as TAMU started driving to the bucket, the Aggies overall shooting warmed to 47 percent.
NSU shot 40 percent from the floor.
The long ball kept NSU in the game early as the Demons made three of their first five attempts, the final one from LaTerrance Reed to slice A&M’s advantage to 12-11.
But Henry Coleman scored four of his seven points in a 13-2 Aggie run that allowed TAMU to build a 36-25 halftime lead.
Two Demons made their first 3-pointers of the season Tuesday, as Jalen King made both of his attempts as part of his eight points (four rebounds) and Robert Chougkaz drilled his second-half attempt as part of a 9-2 NSU run that shaved TAMU’s lead to 11.
NSU won’t play for a week over Christmas break as the Demons next step onto the floor Dec. 28 at current No. 1 Baylor.
It’ll be the third game in the last two seasons in which NSU has faced the No. 1 ranked team in the nation after playing Gonzaga on consecutive nights in late December of 2020.