first_imgBox Score | Photo GalleryKATY, Texas – Northwestern State’s late-season run will earn them at least one more game.All-Southland Conference second-teamer Chudier Bile scored 17 points as his efforts off the bench carried the fifth-seed Demons to a 79-62 win over eighth-seed Texas A&M Corpus-Christi in the opening game of the 2020 Hercules Tires Southland Conference men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday evening. Having climbed the first of three rungs to reach Saturday night’s championship game, Northwestern State (15-15) will play fourth-seed Sam Houston State Thursday at 5:00 p.m. CT.Bile, a redshirt junior transfer from Bradley, sparked a Demons bench that tallied 35 points while also chipping in six rebounds, four steals, two assists and one blocked shot as Northwestern State overcame an early 14-point deficit and held A&M-Corpus Christi to just 34.8 percent shooting in the second half.“We take pride in our defense,” said Bile. “We came slow because we had a lot of nerves, but once we settled in, we got back to what we were good at.”Making their first appearance in the conference tournament since the 2014-15 season, the Demons also got 17 points from Jairus Roberson and 13 points off the bench from Brian White.The Islanders (14-18) sought an early knockout, jumping to a 10-0 lead that was capped by Myles Smith’s 3-pointer at the 17:26 mark of the first half. The early spurt served as a wake-up call for Northwestern State, who responded with a 10-2 run to trim the margin to 12-10 on Bile’s jumper with 13:34 remaining.“They kind of caught us on our heels,” said Demons coach Mike McConathy, whose team has won seven of their last 10 games. “But instead of getting frustrated, it seemed like we pulled together as a team. Of course, it helps to make a few shots.”A&M-CC then took its turn to spurt, hitting the Demons with a 7-0 run to regain a 10-point edge and expanded the lead to 29-15 on another triple from Smith with 8:31 left. It would be the high-water mark for the Islanders, as Northwestern State’s long-range game began to find its mark.Bile connected on a pair of treys during a 16-1 run that gave Northwestern State its first lead of the game at 31-30 with 3:48 left before intermission. The basket enabled the Demons to continue their offensive proficiency as they added an 11-0 run to expand their lead to 41-30 before a pair of Islanders 3-pointers cut the deficit to 41-36 at the half.“We let some bunnies that we missed affect what we did,” said Islanders coach Willis Wilson. “It was just one of those nights where the shots didn’t fall the way they were falling. We were shooting at a pretty hot clip the last 2-3 weeks or so, but tonight, they just didn’t fall.”Northwestern State continued to punish the Islanders with treys, with Roberson hitting a pair that helped the Demons come out of the second half gate with a 53-39 lead with 16:07 left. A dunk from Larry Owens swelled the Northwestern State lead to 57-40.With their season on the line, the Islanders rediscovered their offensive stroke, embarking on an 11-2 run to cut the gap to 59-51, but C.J. Jones’ conventional 3-point play helped stem the A&M-CC tide with 9:34 remaining.Turnovers also hurt the Islanders, as they committed 18 on the evening. The miscues helped Northwestern State trigger its fast break, resulting in the Demons producing 17 points from it. The Islanders were also unable to establish themselves in the paint, finishing with only 14 points.“When they adjusted to us getting the ball in the post so frequently, it slowed down our offense,” said A&M-CC’s Elijah Schmidt.last_img

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