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McNeese men's basketball coach Dave Simmons. (American Press Archives)

McNeese men's basketball coach Dave Simmons. (American Press Archives)

Northwestern State downs McNeese in conference opener

Last Modified: Friday, January 04, 2013 12:50 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

NATCHITOCHES — McNeese State coach Dave Simmons said the difference between this year’s Northwestern State team and the past couple editions is that the Demons’ bench is just as good as the starting lineup.

Actually, it might be better.

Northwestern’s second wave of players was too much for the Cowboys to handle in Thursday night’s Southland Conference opener, allowing the Demons to pull away late in the second half for a 78-63 win.

The Demons (7-4, 1-0 SLC) dominated in terms of superior bench play, outscoring the McNeese reserves by a 52-8 margin.

“We may have got a little fatigued and tired as they rotated numbers and got to us,” Simmons said. “But this is a game we’ve been able to win. We came up here with seven guys last year and won this game. We’ve got to do a better job of executing.”

Three Northwestern State bench players scored in double digits, led by Brison White’s game-high 20 points. DeQuan Hicks added 14 and Jalan West chipped in 10.

“That was the biggest difference,” Simmons said. “This is the first time I can remember us being beat as bad as we did in transition. Normally we’re the team trying to pick it up in transition. But even though they lost a great player in (center) Will Moseley (to graduation), I think they’re better as a unit. They’re the best they have been in a while depth-wise.”

The Demons shot out like a cannon in the first half, hitting 60 percent from the field to take a 43-31 lead into the locker room.

McNeese (6-5, 0-1) was able to slow down the pace to start the second half, cutting the margin to 46-45 when Dontae Cannon drove to the hole for a layup and made the ensuing free throw after a hard foul.

There was a little bit of extracurricular activity under the basket after Cannon was fouled, as Jeremie Mitchell and Demons guard Shamir Davis got into it with each other and were whistled for technicals.

Northwestern outscored McNeese 28-12 from that point forward.

“We lost composure during the game,” Simmons said. “We probably need to take more timeouts when teams get on runs to get composure back.”

McNeese, playing its first game since Dec. 22, certainly looked out of sorts.

The Cowboys turned the ball over nine times in the second half, and missed plenty of easy shots before that.

“The layoff, we had no chemistry,” Simmons said. “We missed 7-8 layups.”

The Cowboys missed plenty of free throws as well, making 7 of 16 from the charity stripe.

Cannon led McNeese with 15 points, while Kevin Hardy recorded a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Desharick Guidry added 14 points and nine boards.

McNeese finished 26 of 73 (35.6 percent) from the field, while the Demons were 32 of 64.

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