|Updated: 1/12 9:21 pm
||Published: 1/12 8:20 pm
CONWAY, Ark. _ The Northwestern State Demons nailed a season-high 12 three-pointers and connected on a season-high 30 free throws to down the University of Central Arkansas Bears 100-88 in Southland Conference action on Saturday at the Farris Center.
The Demons (10-5, 4-1) got three consecutive threes from junior Gary Stewart midway through the second half to stop a run by the Bears (5-9, 0-4) and propel Northwestern State to the victory.
UCA had four players in double figures led by senior guard Robert Crawford with 22 points. Junior guard LaQuentin Miles followed with 21, while senior guard Jarvis Garner scored all of his 18 points in the second half. Freshman Daouda Berete made the most of his first career start with 11 points and 5 rebounds.
UCA fell behind by as much as 20 points in the first half before rallying to cut the deficit to just nine points, 47-38, at halftime.
“We know Northwestern really gets out in transition and pushes the basketball,’ said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson. “It’s something we warn our guys about, to get back on defense and try to stop their momentum. But they did an excellent job of pushing the ball and scoring in transition. I thought early we took some tough shots and they got long rebounds and were able to get out and run.
“We got down by 20 and called a time out. We told our guys, “look, we have to find a way to fight, we can’t give up. We thought if we could get the lead down below 10 points by halftime, we thought we’d have an opportunity to be there at the end.’
The Bears then pulled to within five points at 49-44 on Crawford’s jumper early in the second half.
UCA was down just 60-54 when Stewart went on his shooting spree, hitting back-to-back-to-back three-pointers in a span of 45 seconds, all from the left corner, to push the Demons’ lead to 69-58 at the 14-minute mark.
The Bears fought back again, with a three-point play by Garner, closing the gap to 71-63. But UCA never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way, the last time on Miles’ dunk off a Crawford steal with 54 seconds to play.
“We’ve talked about that all season,’ said Williamson, “we always get to that point and just can’t get over the hump. We have to figure out ways to break through. When games get close like that and we’re making a comeback, we can’t afford to give up a foul or an easy basket, and offensive rebound.
“Those are the plays that hurt us."
UCA, the No. 2 three-point shooting team in the league, struggled from the perimeter for the second straight game, going 4 of 13 (30.8 percent) from beyond the arc. The Demons were 12 of 22 (54.5 percent) and also shot 81.1 percent (30 of 37) from the line.
UCA hits the road for two conference games next week, playing at Sam Houston State on Thursday and at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday.