NATCHITOCHES, La. – Junior Nimrod Hilliard scored a career-high 29 points, and extended his double-figure scoring streak to 14 games, but Northwestern State never trailed Saturday afternoon defeating Lamar, 99-85. The loss drops Lamar to 1-13 on the season and 0-2 in Southland Conference play, while the Demons improved to 5-8 overall and 1-1 in league action.
"Our turnovers hurt us today," said head coach Pat Knight. "We made some really bad decisions trying to get the ball inbounds and they took advantage. In the first half we made a run and had a chance to take the lead on four possessions and didn't convert, and we never recovered after that."
The Demons scored the first six point of the game, and pushed their lead to eight, 31-23, with just over eight minutes remaining in the half when Lamar went on a run to the tie game. Sparked by consecutive three-pointers from freshman Marcus Owens, Lamar tied the game at the 5:15 remaining in the half, but the Demons closed the half on an 18-5 run to take a 13-point lead into the locker room, 49-36.
The Cardinals were 14-of-31 (.452) from the field in the opening half, including a 5-of-8 (.625) performance from behind the arc, but similar to the first half of the conference opener Thursday night LU was hurt by turnovers. The Cardinals turned the ball over 12 times which Northwestern State took advantage of for 13 points.
Despite knocking down only 2-of-10 first-half three-point attempts from beyond the arc, Northwestern State shot 51 percent from the floor in the first half led by Zikiteran Woodley's 15 points and Jalan West's 11. Junior Nimrod Hilliard was a near perfect 6-of-7 from the field to lead Lamar with 15 first-half points.
After an Amos Wilson layup cut the Demons lead down to 11 points, 55-44, in the second half Northwestern State responded by pushing its lead to 20 points behind Woodley's 30-point performance. The Demons led by as many as 23 before the Cards went on a late run to cut the deficit to the final tally.
Hilliard finished the game 10-of-15 (.667) from the field, including a near perfect 4-of-5 (.800) performance from three-point land. It is the most points scored by a Cardinal since Mike James scored 30 against Sam Houston State during the 2011-12 season. Hilliard was one of three Cardinals to score in double-figures as Lamar finished the game 29-of-57 (.509) from the field, including a 58 percent performance in the second half. Lamar also finished the game 8-of-16 (.500) from three-point land.
Woodley was one of four Demons to hit double figures for an offense that connected on 35-of-73 (.479) of its shots. Northwestern State took advantage of Lamar turnovers throughout the game scoring 33 points off Lamar's 22 miscues.
The Cardinals return home to host Nicholls State Thursday. The game against the Colonels is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. from the Montagne Center.