Northwestern State falls short vs. No. 16 Memphis
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy wasn't going to change his game plan against No. 16 Memphis. The Demons were going to run their fast-paced approach.
"We have to continue trying to be who we are and we're getting better for January, February and March," McConathy said, referring to the team's play in the Southland Conference.
Jalan West scored 15 points to lead six Demons players in double figures in Northwestern State's 96-76 loss to No. 16 Memphis on Saturday.
DeQuan Hicks scored 13 points and Patrick Robinson had 12 points for the Demons (3-4), who shot 40 percent from the field, including just 3 of 18 on 3-pointers.
Sabri Thompson scored 11 points, while Brison White and Zikiteran Woodley each added 10.
"We didn't quit, and we very well could have laid down when it got to be 29 and 30 (point leads)," McConathy said. "We continued to fight and do it. We have to figure out how to get something out of these games, and that's what we did."
Memphis made a definitive statement early they weren't having a letdown after their win over nationally-ranked Oklahoma State last Sunday.
Shaq Goodwin scored a career-high 21 points, and Memphis shot 54 percent. It was a carryover from the Tigers avenging their only loss of the season by beating the ninth-ranked Cowboys 73-68 to win the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., last Sunday.
"For the past week, we've been preaching carryover and not slacking off," said Goodwin, who shot 8 for 11 from the field. "Everyone knows when you come off a big win, you can't lay an egg."
Joe Jackson scored 18 points with five assists, and Michael Dixon Jr. had 14 points, connecting on 6 of 9 from the field for Memphis (6-1).
Goodwin's performance continued a new emphasis by the Tigers in getting their post players involved. Over the last five games, Memphis, which entered the season with a reputation for strong senior guards, has pushed the ball inside more to Goodwin and freshman forward Austin Nichols.
"It's a tremendous plus to have multiple guys that you can just throw the ball in there and get out of their way," Dixon said of the balanced offense.
McConathy hoped for a letdown by Memphis after Tigers coach Josh Pastner's first win over a Top 25 team — but was pretty sure he couldn't rely on that.
Memphis never trailed and led by as many as 30 with just over 6 minutes left. At that point, Pastner substituted his starters.
As expected, the game was fast-paced. The Demons entered as one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, averaging 89.7 points. But they also allow 90.8 points, near the bottom of the NCAA rankings.
Memphis, which averages 84.8 points, displayed its offensive prowess in the first half. The Tigers connected on 58 percent of their shots before the break and led 56-29 at halftime.
The Demons struggled offensively in the first half, hitting slightly under 30 percent from the field and missing all but one of their 10 shots from 3-point range.
Memphis' lead was only 21-16 with about 12 minutes left in the half. The Tigers outscored Northwestern State 35-13 before halftime, including a 12-0 run.
"What happened to us was we kept attacking and got nothing out of it," McConathy said. "Then they were just coming. They shot the ball extremely well. We were in position defensively to close, but we never contested shots in that stretch where they went on that run."