Home Sports Men’s college basketball: NSU falls to No. 9 Baylor

Men’s college basketball: NSU falls to No. 9 Baylor

by Russell Hedges

By Jason Pugh, Northwestern State Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations

WACO, Texas – The Northwestern State men’s basketball team knew it had a tall task on its hands Saturday afternoon against No. 9 Baylor.

Playing without two of its tallest players and facing a long, athletic Bear front court, the Demons struggled to find much offensive traction, falling 91-40 inside the Ferrell Center.

“They have those guys that, no matter how well we play defense, can make shots,” first-year head coach Rick Cabrera said. “One thing they do exceptionally well is share the ball. I’m getting my team to do that. It’s a process, but they share the ball. They look out for each other. They get the ball to the right people. We’ll get there.”

The Demons’ first matchup against an Associated Press top 10 since facing then-No. 1 Baylor on Dec. 28, 2021, saw NSU flip its recent offensive output, putting together a more efficient second half than a stronger opening 20 minutes.

NSU (1-7) trailed 40-14 at halftime after going cold from the field. Baylor’s 7-foot freshman center Yves Missi had a pair of his game-high four blocks in the first half and altered several others as the Demons managed to hit just 5 of 29 shots from the field. 

Missi’s four blocks were part of a nine-block effort by Baylor, marking the most blocked shots by a Demon opponent since Stephen F. Austin blocked 10 shots on Nov. 28, 2021.

After falling behind by 13 less than seven minutes into the game, Northwestern State cut the lead to eight with a 5-0 run, capped by a Cliff Davis corner 3 at the 11:38 mark. NSU managed just one more field goal across the first half – a Chase Forte layup with 8:02 remaining in the half. 

Northwestern State found more of an offensive groove in the second half, opening the second stanza on Jimel Lane’s personal 5-0 run that started with a corner 3-pointer and ended with a ferocious fast break dunk.

Lane led Northwestern State with 10 points, his first double-figure performance against a Division I opponent this season and his first since the Nov. 6 season opener against Dallas Christian. He added a pair of blocks – his second straight game with a pair of rejections and his third multi-block performance of the season.

“I loved Jimel’s activity,” Cabrera said. “Once he puts his offensive skill set together with his defense, he can be really special. I’m really proud of him. He brings it every day, but it’s our job as coaches to get these guys better, and that’s something we’re going to do.”

Like the Demons, who nearly doubled their shooting aim in the second half, Baylor also saw an uptick in its offensive efficiency in the final 20 minutes.

The Bears (8-0) shot 58 percent from the field in the second half and sank 7 of 17 3-pointers, finishing 10-for-28 from long range.

Jalen Bridges had four of those 3s, leading four Bears in double figures with 16 points. In addition to his four blocks, Missi produced a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double that helped Baylor build a plus-29 advantage on the glass.

The Demons return to action in one week when they travel to face Southern Miss on Dec. 9. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at Reed Green Coliseum.

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