JACKSON, Miss. - Arnett Moultrie had 24 points and 14 rebounds, 11 of them offensive, to make the difference Wednesday night for No. 17/18 Mississippi State in an 82-67 college basketball win over scrappy Northwestern State.
It was the 11th straight win for the Bulldogs (12-1), who had a 20-point first half lead whittled to six points, 45-39, in the first five minutes after halftime by the Demons (7-6). A 13-1 burst by the Bulldogs reopened a comfortable lead and NSU got no closer than 12 afterward.
"Moultrie just took over when we were knocking on the door," said 13th-year Demons coach Mike McConathy. "We did some good things going into the half and coming out. We competed so much better in the second half, and I was proud of that.
"We have to build on the good things and try to correct the areas where if we had done better, we would have been in a battle down to the final minute," he said. "We had 15 turnovers, several right after we came up with the ball with a chance for transition points. We've got to play tougher. But there were lessons learned tonight."
Shamir Davis topped NSU with 15 points while Louis Ellis scored 13 and Gary Stewart 12. The Demons shot 55 percent after halftime, recovering from a 31 percent first half which began with 4 of 19 aim. Overall, the visitors finished at 43 percent accuracy while Mississippi State shot 46 percent and made its trips to the free throw line count, sinking 16 of 19 compared to NSU's 8 for 15 aim.
The Bulldogs got 14 points by Wendell Lewis and 11 from Rodney Hood, who added 6 rebounds. The 6-11 Moultrie sank 8 of 11 shots from the field and all 8 of his free throw shots, adding 4 assists.
NSU was outrebounded 45-35. William Mosley, who sat out most of the first half after getting two early fouls, and James Hulbin each had 6 rebounds to top NSU.
The Bulldogs pushed away from a 13-9 edge with a run of 13 straight points over five minutes. The Demons posted a 20-6 surge sandwiched around halftime to draw within six points on a Patrick Robinson 3-pointer at the 15:28 mark.
But Northwestern didn't get another basket for five minutes while Mississippi State stretched out the lead to 58-42 midway through the final half.
The Demons wrapped up their pre-Christmas schedule, and have one non-conference game remaining, at Oklahoma on New Year's Eve. NSU is home again opening Southland Conference play on Jan. 7 in Prather Coliseum against Texas State.