The Demons (4-3) prevailed despite 50 percent free throw aim, including missing 10 of their first 13 after halftime. While snapping a three-game losing skid to LSU, Texas A&M and Oklahoma, they closed by making 9 of their last 13, complementing their 55 percent field goal aim in the contest.
The Bulldogs (7-2) had a seven-game win streak ended as they struggled to 34.5 percent field goal aim. They were bidding for their best string of consecutive wins since 1985-86 when future Basketball Hall of Famer Karl Malone was playing for Louisiana Tech.
Gary Roberson matched his career high with 14 points for the Demons, who picked up 13 points and 10 rebounds from DeQuan Hicks, and 11 points apiece from Brison White and Jalan West, who added eight assists. James Hulbin snagged 12 rebounds as the Demons and Bulldogs each finished with 50.
Raheem Appleby and Kenneth Smith shared the scoring lead for Louisiana Tech with 17 apiece, while Alex Hamilton added 16. Michale Kyser grabbed a game-best 17 rebounds, 10 on the offensive end. Smith recorded game highs of nine assists and four steals.
The Demons led by 44-35 at halftime and by 12 early in the second half. The Bulldogs had a pair of three-point leads, going up by 67-64 on a 3-pointer by Appleby with 7:46 to go. NSU then went on an 11-3 run to go on top for good.
There were five ties and seven lead changes, the last with 5:58 remaining when Hicks hit a layup for a 71-70 Northwestern edge. The Demons got another layup from Roberson, then a jumper from the free throw line by Hicks in a run of six unanswered points to go ahead 75-70 with 5:05 left.
Louisiana Tech’s Kenyon McNeail converted a three-point play with 3:38 showing to get the visitors within 77-75, but Roberson hit a free throw on the next possession and Hulbin rebounded the second free throw, then tipped in his own miss with 3:11 left to push the lead to 80-75. The teams traded free throws in the next minute, then West hit a twisting layup in transition with 1:26 to go for an 83-76 advantage and the Bulldogs never got closer than the final margin.
“It was a very competitive basketball game, not a pretty one but an exciting one for the fans,” said 14th-year Demons’ coach Mike McConathy. “Our guys showed toughness coming down the stretch to hold them off.”
The Demons won’t play again until next Saturday, Dec. 15, against Missouri Valley.