The Northwestern State Demons are home to the top scoring guard duo in the NCAA, in Jalan West and Zeek Woodley. Combined, the two averaged over 42 points per game a season ago.
On Monday night, Jalan West was on the sidelines, recovering from an injury sustained in the Demons’ season opener against Ole Miss. They were taking on LSU-Alexandria, a team from the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) in the NAIA, so on paper it was a good game to sit out and recover.
The Generals took advantage of West’s absence, and brought their A-game in the process.
Zeek Woodley poured in a game-high 39 points, and did his best to keep his team in the game, but LSU-Alexandria used a balanced scoring attack to send the Demons to an 0 – 2 start with the 99 – 97 upset victory.
Points were going to come in bunches in this one, and both offenses didn’t disappoint. By the first media timeout, three players from each team had found the scoresheet, and the Generals held a slim 9 – 6 lead.
As the first half wore on, the game was more of a feeling-out process, as neither team could gain any separation. The Generals were able to stretch their lead to as many as five points halfway through the opening half, thanks to a pair of free throws from Darryl Milburn, but the Demons would come right back.
Northwestern State took a five point lead of their own shortly thereafter, thanks to clutch free throw shooting of their own from Woodley and Malik Metoyer.
The back-and-forth action would continue right down to the first-half buzzer, as DeAngelo Cooper hit a last-second three pointer to send LSU-Alexandria into the half with a 49 – 47 lead. In the absence of West, Woodley scored 15 points in the opening half to lead the Demons.
To open the second half, the General went on a 10 – 4 run to stretch their lead to eight, prompting a timeout from the Demons. As was the case in the first half, the back-and-forth action would ensue from there, as Northwestern State was trying to cut into the lead and get back into the game.
With 10:49 left on the clock, a Woodley lay-up would tie the game at 68-all. Then, just two minutes later, a three pointer from Devonte Hall gave the Demons a 75 – 72 lead. Little did we know at the time, but that was the last lead they would hold for the remainder of the contest.
Thanks to clutch shooting from the floor and the free throw line from both Gilbert Talbot and DeQuavious Wagner, the Generals were able to retake the lead and put some space in between themselves and the Demons.
The game was put to rest with 1:16 left on the clock. A foul on Devonte Hall, coupled with a technical foul for Northwestern State, sent DeAngelo Coleman to the free throw line for four attempts for the Generals. When all was said and done, the Generals had a 96 – 89 lead, and that was all they needed.
Northwestern State made a strong push in the last minute, but the Generals wouldn’t relinquish their lead. The Generals came away with a hard-fought 99 – 97 victory on the road, sending the Demons to an 0 – 2 start in the process.
LSU-Alexandria was led by a balanced scoring attack that saw four players score in double figures, and 10 players find the score sheet. DeAngelo Coleman scored a team-high 22 points in the win, none bigger than the four free throws he made with 1:16 left in the second half to ice the contest.
Brian Sylvester came off the bench to record 7 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
As for Northwestern State, they almost overcame the loss of West, but his presence on the floor clearly affected the team. He is strong on both ends of the floor, which is why he is considered as one of the premier point guards in the country.
Zeek Woodley led all scorers in the game with 39 points to go along with 8 rebounds. Woodley finished the game shooting 14-of-19 from the floor, and 10-of-10 from the charity stripe. Devonte Hall, West’s replacement at point guard, added 16 points and 11 assists in the loss.
Northwestern State (0 – 2) will have a few days off before their next contest to get healthy and draft up a new game plan. They take to the court again on Thursday night, when they welcome UL-Monroe to Natchitoches.