COLLEGE STATION, Texas – A hot start Tuesday night inside Reed Arena put the Northwestern State men’s basketball team within reach of its second win against a Power Five opponent this season.
The Demons, however, were unable to sustain that momentum in the second half and fell to Texas A&M, 64-52, in their final non-conference game of the regular season.
Playing for the first time in seven days, NSU (8-5) broke quickly and built as much as a 15-point lead in the first half against the Aggies (7-5).
Starting with Ja’Monta Black’s 3-pointer 14 seconds into the game, the Demons did not trail in the first half thanks in large part to a hot shooting performance from beyond the arc.
NSU hit seven of its 15 first-half 3-pointers, nearly reaching its average of almost nine made 3s in a game. Both Isaac Haney and Black connected on three 3s in the opening half.
Black’s final 3 of the first half gave NSU its largest lead of the game, a 27-12 advantage with 9:04 to play in the half.
That’s when the Aggies began to find their legs, finishing the half by holding NSU to 2-for-8 shooting to end the half with both baskets coming from Haney 3-pointers. Buoyed by that defensive prowess, Texas A&M sliced the lead to five at the break, Northwestern State’s smallest advantage since a 14-10 lead with 14:38 to play.
Even with the sluggish finish, the Demons shot 46.7 percent (7 for 15) from 3-point range in the opening half.
The Aggies were the faster-starting team in the second half, starting on a 9-0 run across the first 3:04 of the second stanza.
Again, it was a Demon 3-pointer that quelled the run as DeMarcus Sharp knocked down a step-back 3 to pull NSU within one.
With both defenses tightening, the Demons were able to pull even again on a Black 3 with 13:14 to play, squaring the game at 42.
The 3 remained nearly the Demons’ sole source of offense in the second half. NSU missed all seven of its two-point field goal attempts in the half and hit six of 25 3-point tries.
NSU finished with a season-best 13 made 3s on a school single-game record 40 3-point attempts.
The only second-half point for Northwestern State that did not come from a 3-pointer was a Jalen Hampton free throw with 3:11 to play.
The Aggies got 13 second-half points from Tyrece Radford as part of a 121-point, 10-rebound double-double. Radford and Henry Coleman III (24 points) keyed a 36-6 advantage for the Aggies in points in the paint.
Haney (16), Sharp (15) and Black (15) led Northwestern State in scoring while Sharp grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds and handed out six assists.
The Demons return to action Saturday when they host Texas A&M-Corpus Christ in the Southland Conference opener for both teams. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. in Prather Coliseum.
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