Northwestern, which never trailed and led by 21 early in the second half, improved to 2-0 while dropping Campbell to 1-1. The Demons got 19 points and 10 rebounds from junior college transfer DeQuan Hicks, who made 9 of 13 shots from the floor, while senior guard Shamir Davis scored 10.
Campbell picked up 15 points each from Darren White and Darian Hooker, with White snatching a game-high 12 rebounds. Trey Freeman added 13 points and six assists.
The Camels sank 51 percent of their second half shots after trailing 38-22 after the first 20 minutes, while making only 30 percent from the floor. For the game NSU sank 44 percent and Campbell was at 43 percent overall.
The Demons made only 2 of 17 from behind the 3-point arc. Both teams were mediocre on free throws, with NSU finishing at 54 percent (13-24) and Campbell going 12 of 21 (57 percent).
NSU sank just 4-of-10 free throws down the stretch to leave the door open for Campbell’s furious comeback bid. The Demons led 69-58 with 1:11 remaining after two free throws by senior center O.J. Evans, but made just one of their next five free throws. Although they drew within three points on a pair of Freeman free throws with 12 seconds left, the Camels never had the ball with a chance to tie the game in the final minute.
“When we pushed the ball and got after them defensively, we were good,” said Demons’ 14th-year coach Mike McConathy. “But we got real stagnant offensively, and they got aggressive with the ball.
“Our 1-2-2 defense won the game. We went to that hoping to slow them down and our players made it work,” said McConathy. “We made them spend so much time trying to get the ball into the lane and the points did not come easily for them after they made a really nice run to get back in it.
“We left the door open by not making free throws but we defended well to hold on,” he said. “They’re a very talented team, as athletic as anybody we’ll play in our league.”
The Demons broke a 13-all tie with eight unanswered points, the last basket in that burst by Hicks midway through the first half. NSU extended the run through the close of the half, outscoring Campbell 25-9 over the last 11:39, and twice went ahead by 21, the last time on a Hicks jumper with 14:46 remaining for a 52-31 advantage.
“DeQuan is really good. We have to make everybody understands to get him the ball when we need to score,” said McConathy.
NSU will play again Saturday afternoon at 2 in Prather Coliseum against Hannibal-LaGrange, then visits LSU next Tuesday night.