NATCHITOCHES - Northwestern State hit 63 percent of its second-half shots Wednesday night while top scorers Louis Ellis, Shamir Davis and William Mosley combined to make 10 of 11 shots and 7 of 9 free throws to help the Demons put away a cold-shooting Lamar team 74-62 at Prather Coliseum in Southland Conference basketball.
The Demons rose to 11-9 overall and 4-2 in the conference. Lamar dipped to 12-8 overall, 3-3 in league play. The outcome left NSU tied for the Southland East Division lead with McNeese State nearing the midway point of the 16-game conference season.
Ellis equaled his career high with 19 points, while Davis had 17 points with 8 assists. Mosley had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks, moving past LSU great Shaquille O'Neal (412) into 19th place on the NCAA career blocks shots list with 415.
The Cardinals, who shot 83 percent in the second half of a 92-78 win Saturday at Central Arkansas, made only 33 percent against the Demons, including a miserable 1-of-12 on 3-pointers. A 73 percent free throw shooting team, Lamar made just 52 percent (13-25). Mike James scored 18 and Anthony Miles 15 for the Cardinals.
After 10 lead changes in a first half ending with the Demons ahead 32-30, two baskets by Davis sandwiched around an Ellis 3-pointer gave NSU its biggest lead to that point at 43-34 four minutes into the second half in an 11-0 burst over 2:11. Lamar closed within 48-44 when NSU launched an 11-1 run capped by a Patrick Robinson 3-pointer for a 59-45 advantage with 8:25 remaining.
The Cardinals climbed within 62-58 with 4:40 left, but a three-point play by Davis with 4:03 to go pushed it back to a 7-point spread. Lamar made its last push and drew to 67-62 with 2:07 remaining. James Hulbin drained two free throws, and NSU held Lamar scoreless while posting the game's last seven points, including four free throws by Davis.
"We did some good things, we really did," said Demons' coach Mike McConathy. "Our bench made big impact, even if they didn't stat big. O.J. Evans really was good. Marvin Frazier wasn't in for long but it was the best he's played to help us win. We did a lot better job of getting hands up and contesting 3-pointers.
"They killed us on the boards (48-37), got 25 offensive rebounds, and I have no explanation for that. But our effort defensively helped compensate for that. We played hard against a tough basketball team and earned this win," he said.
For the second straight game, the Demons, one of the country's worst free throw teams, hit over 70 percent, making 17 of 24 (71 percent). Mosley, a 39 percent career shooter, went 4-for-4 on the line and 6 of 8 from the field.
Northwestern stays home to play Southeastern Louisiana Saturday at 2 in Prather Coliseum.