The Demons (7-5) forced five turnovers in the decisive stretch and held the Eagles to 1-of-4 shooting after the visitors had made 57 percent of their shots to that point. In a game with 22 lead changes and 17 ties, Central Methodist led 77-73 but Davis hit a layup with 3:32 remaining and nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 2:24 mark for a 78-77 edge.
James Hulbin sank two free throws with 1:34 left to give NSU an 80-77 advantage. William Mosley made a steal on the next Eagles’ possession and Davis converted a driving transition layup, and added a free throw, to make it 83-77 with 59 seconds to go. Davis added two more free throws with 27 seconds to go that pushed the Demons ahead 85-77.
Ellis had 14 points, 4 assists and 4 steals while Mosley contributed 14 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals. Hulbin and Gary Stewart added 11 points each while Demetrice Jacobs scored 10.
Elliot Black scored a game-high 21 to pace Central Methodist, adding 8 rebounds. Melvin Tillman added 17 points and Robert Mason 15 for the Eagles, who brought a 5-6 record into the game that the NAIA team classified as an exhibition.
“They played an excellent game and for the fans, it was a very entertaining game to watch,” said 13th-year Demons coach Mike McConathy. “Our defense down the stretch turned it in our favor. You can’t judge a book by its cover, and we obviously tried to, and it very nearly caught up with us. We knew they were extremely well coached and they would play hard and smart.”
Central Methodist shot 54 percent overall, 47 percent on 3-pointers (9-19) and had only 11 turnovers until the closing stretch.
Northwestern finished at 49 percent shooting, making 58 percent after a 37-all halftime score. NSU sank 39 percent of its 3-point shots (9-23) and made 67 percent (18-27) on free throws, including its last seven in the closing 1:34.
The game was the last home contest of 2011 for the Demons, who play at Mississippi State Thursday night and Oklahoma on New Year’s Eve before hosting Texas State Jan. 7 in the Southland Conference opener.