Jan. 5, 2008

NATCHITOCHES, La. - - Somebody forgot to tell the Northwestern State men's basketball team that it struggles to shoot the ball.

Saturday at Prather Coliseum in the Southland Conference opener for both teams, UT Arlington couldn't answer the Demons from outside, and the Mavericks couldn't keep up with the Demons on the boards. The result was an 86-82 loss for UT Arlington, which saw a hot start in the non-conference dampened on the road.

UTA (10-3, 0-1 in the SLC) got a career-high 23 points from Anthony Vereen and 23 from Rog'er Guignard, featuring a 5-for-10 performance from the 3-point line.

But Northwestern State (5-10, 1-0), which snapped a five-game losing streak, shot 11-for-29 from long range and 31-for-66 overall (47 percent). Entering the game, Northwestern State was last in the SLC in field-goal shooting and next-to-last in 3-point shooting. The Demons beat UTA on the boards by a thin margin, 38-37, but two crucial rebounds and put-backs late in the game thwarted any UTA comeback effort.

Trailing 47-43 with 15:38 left in the game, Guignard and Northwestern State forward Damon Jones thrilled Prather Coliseum fans with a long-range shooting display. In a span of less than four minutes Guignard had a pull-up jumper, three 3-pointers and a steal and layup to tied the game, 53-53.

Jones also had three long-range jumpers in that span.

From there, the teams traded baskets, and it was clear the league contest would come down to the final few possessions. A layup by Jerry Moody gave Northwestern State a lead, 77-74, with 1:55 left. UTA's ensuing possession ended with an alternate possession ruling in favor of the Demons when two Northwestern State players blocked Vereen's layup attempt

Michael McConathy hit one of two free throws to put the Mavericks down, 78-74, with 1:14 left.



Anthony Vereen answered with a 3-pointer from the left wing to cut it to 78-77 with 52.4 left. A Northwestern State layup, followed by a UTA turnover and two Demons free throws put the put the Mavericks down 82-77 with 19.7 left.

UTA got within 82-80 with 13.1 left, but the Demons put the game away with two more free throws in the final second.

From the start, it was clear that Northwestern State was excited about a new lease on the season with start of conference play.

UTA trailed for the first seven minutes of the first before consecutive Anthony Vereen baskets in the paint tied it 10-10.

Northwestern State quickly answered with a 3-pointer by Michael McConathy, but the Mavericks quickly answered by putting together their best run of the half. Sparked by a Rod Epps 3-pointer, UTA went on a 10-2 run to take a 20-15 lead with 8:51 left in the half. In that run, freshman center Trey Parker took a charge, then hit a layup after a perfect interior pass from Vereen. Tommy Moffitt added a 3-pointer, and Rog'er Guignard hit two free throws.

But as quickly as the Mavericks seemingly took control of the game, the Demons stole the momentum with consecutive field goals - a baseline jumper by Trey Gilder and 3-pointer by Damon Jones - to make it 20-20 with 8:20 left.

Northwestern State took its biggest lead of the first half, 37-30, with 2:38 left and held until the two-minute mark.

The Mavericks outscored their opponent, 5-2, to close the half and go into the locker room with a 41-37 deficit.


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