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Men’s college basketball: UNO rallies to snap Demons’ win streak

by Russell Hedges

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

NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State men’s basketball team had plenty of chances Saturday afternoon to keep its longest win streak in a decade alive.

The Demons had four chances to answer a late tie-breaking 3-pointer from New Orleans’ Jordan Johnson but none fell as the visiting Privateers rallied for a 68-65 victory to snap NSU’s nine-game win streak.

“They were deserving of it,” first-year head coach Corey Gipson said. “They had great pop and intensity to start the game. They had great pop and intensity in the middle of the game. They really played the game the right way at the end of the game. The ball got into the hands of the right guy. (Johnson) took charge of the game. He commanded the game. He forced and dictated the way the game should end in regards to how they wanted the game to end.

“In regards to us, we didn’t play the end of the game the right way. We didn’t play the middle of the game the right way. We didn’t play the beginning of the game the right way. That’s not to take away from how New Orleans played. They were deserving.”

Johnson buried a long, straightahead 3-pointer with 58.6 seconds to play to snap a 65-all tie and give the Privateers (8-18, 5-10) a split of the season series with the Demons (19-9, 11-4), who took the first meeting 88-65 in New Orleans on Jan. 21. 

After Johnson’s shot, which produced just the third lead change of the game, Northwestern State fired up four 3-pointers across two offensive possessions in an attempt to draw even, but none connected. The Demons, who lead the Southland Conference with an average of nine made 3-pointers per game, hit eight Saturday afternoon but shot 30.8 percent (8-for-26) after coming in hitting 36.9 percent of their long-range attempts.

Aside from Ja’Monta Black, who hit 6 of 13 3-pointers, the Demons were a combined 2-for-13 from 3-point range.

Following a 50-percent shooting clip in the first half, Northwestern State shot just 35.3 percent from the field in the second half, seeing New Orleans rally from an 11-point, first-half deficit to take a 60-59 lead on Johnson’s layup with 4:37 to play. It was the Privateers’ first advantage since holding a 15-14 lead with 10:59 to play in the first half.

The Demons erased that smidge of an advantage with a 12-0 run and eventually built their largest lead of the game on Black’s 3-pointer with 5:06 to play in the first half. Undeterred, the Privateers cut the lead to three before two Isaac Haney free throws put the Demons up five at the break.

“There were sometimes this year where I didn’t think we were deserving, and we got the outcome,” Gipson said. “I didn’t know if we were deserving of the outcome against Southeastern Louisiana here (Thursday night), and I don’t know if we were deserving of the outcome when we went into overtime at Southeastern Louisiana. When we played at Texas A&M-Commerce, I don’t know if we were deserving. Tonight, we were most definitely not deserving. They outplayed us in every way.”

Johnson had 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, including eight of UNO’s final 12 points from the 5:18 mark of regulation. His total led three Privateers in double figures as Tyson Jackson added 14, including a tiebreaking putback that gave UNO a 64-62 lead late in the game, and Marquez Cooper had 10 off the bench.

DeMarcus Sharp paced NSU with 22 points while Black added 18 and Haney had 11 for the Demons, who were outscored 17-14 on turnovers, 30-24 in the paints and 9-7 in second-chance points.

The Demons return to action Thursday when they begin their final road trip of the 2022-23 regular season. NSU faces UIW at 7:30 p.m. in San Antonio.

— Featured photo by Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services

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