Northwestern State’s Zeek Woodley and and Jalan West, the highest scoring tandem in the nation, refer to themselves as Batman and Robin.
It was Robin who was center stage Saturday at UNO’s Lakefront Arena.
West, a point guard, scored 36 points, including a bank-shot 3-pointer from the right side at the buzzer that gave the Demons an 87-84 Southland Conference victory over the Privateers.
“That was pretty lucky,” said West, who had banked in a 54-foot 3-pointer to end the first half that gave the Demons (15-10, 10-4) momentum. “I think we’re just blessed to get this win. My teammates fought through adversity when we got down like 20, and we stayed together and just got the win.”
The win clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament for Northwestern State, which trailed by 21 points one minute, 38 seconds into the second half.
UNO coach Mark Slessinger, a former Northwestern State assistant coach, said West – who scored 21 points in the second half – simply took over.
Woodley, who is second in the nation in scoring at 22.5 points per game, scored 25, including 16 in the second half. He’s scored 36 on Monday night in a win vs. Central Arkanas.
Guard Nate Frye scored 22 points to lead the Privateers, who fell to 7-15, 3-10. UNO, 6-3 at home, had won its past two games at Lakefront.
“We did a good job of getting the ball out of their hands in the first half,” Slessinger said. “But (West) is the point guard, and he kept it in his hands, and then Woodley got going.”
Demons coach Mike McConathy, in his 18th season, said a big help was forward Travon Joseph gettting 15 points and 12 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds.
“He kept a lot of possessions alive and gave us a third scorer,” McConathy said.
After trailing by 17 in the first half 57-36 at 18:22 of the second, Northwestern State stormed back. It cut the margin to nine with 12 minutes showing and finally tied the Privateers, 68-68, with eight minutes left.
The Privateers spurted to an 81-74 margin with 4:05 left, only to be reeled back in by the Demons, with West making a 24-foot 3-point shot that tied the score at 81 a minute, 10 seconds later.
The Privateers had yanked control from the Demons in the first half with a 21-0 that gave them a 29-17 lead with 5:35 remaining on their way to a 48-34 halftime margin.
A 6-0 burst that started the run turned the tempo to a faster pace, then the Privateers switched from zone to man-to-man defense to which the Demons did react well. UNO led 37-20 the 3:15 mark on a tip-in by small forward Michael Zeno.
Northwestern State went into halftime with a little momentum, however, when West’s 54-footer shot that banked in at the buzzer.
Northwestern State 75, UNO 63: Feasting on Privateers turnovers, the Demons built a 57-39 lead by 10:43 of the second half.
The Privateers (4-19, 2-12) struggled against Northwestern State’s zone defenses, turning the ball over 20 times. That offset a 47-27 rebounding advantage.
However, after Northwestern State point guard Janelle Perez fouled out, UNO began pressing and came to 70-62 but missed opportunities in the lane, and the Demons (14-12, 9-6) finished off the victory from the free-throw line.
Guard Randi Brown led UNO with 22 points, forward Halie Matthews scored 16 and forward Yasmin Taylor had 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
Beatrice Attura led four Northwestern State players in double figures with 21 points.