LETU exorcises Demons in exhibition

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Justin Moore was one of three YellowJackets to score double-figures in LeTourneau's exhibition win over D1 Northwestern State.
LeTourneau athletics file photo
Holding a 27-13 advantage in points off of turnovers, the LeTourneau University men's basketball team trailed for a total of 31 seconds en route to a 99-84 win over NCAA Division I Northwestern State University in an exhibition game at Prather Coliseum in Natchitoches, Louisiana on Sunday, Nov. 12.
The game does not count towards LeTourneau's regular-season schedule, but does count for the Demons who fall to 0-2 on the season.

It would be apparent from the start that both teams would want to play at a quick pace with the opening basket of the game coming just 11 seconds into the game on a layup by Czar Perry of NSU. The two point lead would prove to be the Demons only lead of the game with sophomore Nate West answering with a layup of his own to tie the game at 2-2 before connecting on three free throws just 28 seconds later to give LETU their first lead of the game.

LeTourneau's lead would hover between five and seven points throughout the opening minutes of the game as the YellowJackets could not find a way to break the game open with NSU answering LETU basket for basket. A Caylab Herrera three with 13:34 remaining in the first half would allow for LeTourneau to push their lead to 20-13 with the triple being part of a 10-0 LETU run to make the score 24-13 in favor of the YellowJackets.

LeTourneau utilized efficient shooting from the field to open up the early lead, starting out 7-of-11 from the field before finishing the half by hitting two of their final 18 shots. The shooting woes would be offset by a 17-of-22 performance from the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes which would allow for the YellowJackets to hold a 38-37 halftime lead.

Another quick start to open up the second half would see LETU push their lead back out to 44-39 just two minutes into the second period with senior Alex Colhoff scoring two of his 21 points in the game on a layup to put the LeTourneau lead at 46-39. Northwestern State would not go quietly, using a Perry three to cut the lead to 48-44 before scoring another bucket to trail by only two with 15:34 remaining in the game.

LeTourneau maintained their composure despite the adversity of Herrera and Caleb Loggins each picking up their fourth foul with over 14 minutes remaining in the game, utilizing Seth Mattson and West triples to push the lead back out to 61-54. Northwestern State would be called for two technical fouls just 34 seconds apart from each other before picking up a third technical just 32 seconds after the second one was called, which allowed for Colhoff to sink five of six free throws. The free throws would be part of a 9-0 LETU run that gave the YellowJackets an 83-68 lead with eight minutes remaining and momentum heading into crunch time.

A pair of Justin Moore free throws would give LeTourneau their largest lead of the evening at 90-73 with just over five minutes remaining as the Demons had no answer for the YellowJacket attack in the second half. Despite NSU scoring 11 points down the stretch, LETU would match the Demons on the offensive end of the court to hold on for a 15 point win in their first of two exhibitions against NCAA Division I Southland Conference opponents.

"I'm really proud of our guys today as we had a great week of practice and felt ready to finally compete against somebody else" said head coach Dan Miller in a postgame interview. "We stressed ball toughness all week and I thought our guys were solid with the basketball." "We have a lot of respect for coach McCarthey and Northwestern State, so it is pretty special to win at their place and defeat a Southland Conference team." "I want the guys to enjoy the feeling of beating an NCAA Division I team, but tomorrow we need to move on and focus hard to prepare for our season opener on Wednesday."

LETU shot 43.1 percent from the field (28-65) overall and outscored Northwestern State 61-47 in the second half while going to the charity stripe 43 times in the game. NSU would hold a 41-20 advantage in bench points, while also holding a 15-10 advantage in second chance points.

West led all scorers with 32 points in the contest, connecting on eight of 11 free throws and adding a team-high eight rebounds. Colhoff scored 11 of his 21 points at the free throw line while Moore added 14 and Loggins had 10. The YellowJackets limited their turnovers to 12 while forcing 20 by NSU, with the 14 point advantage in points off turnovers making the difference in the game.

The season will officially get underway for the YellowJackets on Wednesday evening, November 15th when LETU plays host to Austin College at 7 p.m. Last season, LeTourneau went 16-2 at Solheim Arena with the only losses coming to reigning American Southwest Conference champion Hardin-Simmons University.