March 10, 2005
NATCHITOCHES, La. - Junior Alan Daniels scored a game-high 30 points, but it was not enough as top-seeded Northwestern State posted a 90-75 win over fifth-seeded Lamar University Thursday night in the semifinals of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Southland Conference Tournament at Prather Coliseum.
Lamar finished the season with an 18-11 record and a 9-7 mark in SLC play. The 18 wins are the most by a Lamar team since the 1987-88 team went 20-11. Northwestern State improved to 21-11 on the season and will host Southeastern Louisiana in the conference championship game Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.
"Our kids never gave up and they played hard to the last minute," said Lamar coach Billy Tubbs. "They have nothing to hang their head about.
"You have to give our kids a lot of credit. We played six of our last eight games on the road and they maintained a great attitude. We made significant progress this season and I'm proud of the effort they gave all season."
Northwestern State scored the game's first five points and never trailed. Lamar trimmed the lead to 10-9 on a Blake Whittle free throw. The Demons went on a 7-0 run capped by a Kerwin Forges three-pointer to push the lead to 17-9 at 12:07.
A Clifton Lee jumper gave the Demons their biggest lead of the first half, 39-24, with 4:12 left in the opening stanza. A Thomas Fairley jumper cut the lead to eight points, 41-33, but Lee and Tyronn Mitchell each hit jumpers to give NWLA a 45-33 halftime lead.
Lamar opened the second half with an 8-2 run to trim the lead to six, 47-41, on a Fairley dunk. The Demons responded with a Lee three-pointer, a Byron Allen dunk and another Lee 3-pointer to push the lead to 14 points, 55-41, with 15:26 remaining.
The Cardinals made another run late in the game. Daniels capped a 7-1 run with a 3-pointer at 6:51 to make the score 69-64 with 6:51 left in the game. Keenan Jones had a dunk and Lee hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game to put the Demons up 10, 75-65, at 4:41.
Daniels was 7-of-17 from the field, 4-of-10 from 3-point range and 12-of-14 from the free throw line in scoring his 30 points. Senior Raymond Anthony, playing his final game as a Cardinal, added 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range.
Nashid Beard and Fairley each added 11 points before fouling out. Lamar shot 38.7 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from 3-point range and 67.7 percent from the free throw line. The Cardinals forced 20 turnovers which led to 19 points.
Lee led the Demons with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, including a perfect 4-of-4 from 3-point range. Alfonse Dyer scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench. Forges added 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field, including 1-of-1 from 3-point range, and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Jermaine Spencer had 10 points and eight rebounds.
NWLA shot 57.4 percent from the field, 46.7 percent from 3-point range and 61.8 percent from the free throw line. The Demons outrebounded Lamar 49 to 21 and outscored the Cardinals 32 to 14 in the paint.