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|Stewart leads Demons in win|
Vidalia's Gary Stewart felt like he was going to have a good game at Central Arkansas Saturday even before tip-off.
That feeling proved to be true as the Demon senior guard made consecutive 3-pointers on three straight second-half possessions as Northwestern State outran Central Arkansas 100-88 Saturday afternoon in Southland Conference basketball.
"I just felt real comfortable," Stewart said. "I told myself before the game I was going to have a good night. I was hitting all my shots in warm-ups and I had a good game here last year."
Stewart made 5-of-8 3-pointers while posting 19 points.
"When my second one went in I just felt good and in rhythm," Stewart said.
Stewart was one of six double-figure scorers and one of six Demons to make a 3-pointer. James Hulbin scored 17 points, while Gary Roberson added 13, Shamir Davis 12, Marvin Frazier 11 and DeQuan Hicks 10. Northwestern recorded 21 assists on 29 baskets, and also sank 30 of 37 free throws.
Stewart, who was 6-of-10 from the field, has started the last 10 games. He is averaging 19.8 minutes a game and 6.3 points. He has six total steals and is averaging 2.9 rebounds a game.
"I had been in a shooting slump," Stewart said. "But the coaches know I can be a scorer. This game helped my confidence in a big way."
The Demons (10-5 overall, 4-1 in the Southland) built a 34-14 lead and weathered repeated rallies by the Bears (5-9, 0-4) in a matchup of the league's top two offenses and two of the country's top 30 scoring teams (NSU fifth, UCA 27th).
Ending a demanding stretch of seven games in 14 days, Northwestern won for the fifth time in that span and took its seventh victory in nine tries.
The Demons drained 55 percent (12-22) of their 3-pointers, "We moved the basketball beautifully at a few points and very well most of the day," said Demons' coach Mike McConathy. "That gave us easy baskets and good looks from outside. Gary was wide open when he hit those three in a row."
Northwestern had a season-best 12 made 3-pointers and the 3-point aim was also a season high, as was the 30 made free throws. NSU's 82 percent free throw shooting neared its best mark, 83.3 percent, and was 16 percentage points above the Demons' average of 66 percent.
Davis and Jalan West each had six assists as NSU posted its third 100-point game of the season but its first in league play since a regular-season conference championship-clinching 103-73 rout of McNeese at the end of the 2005 campaign.
Hicks topped the winners with eight rebounds while Stewart threatened his career best with seven. He sank 6-of-10 shots from the floor and made his only two free throws.
The Bears got 22 points from Robert Crawford and 21 by LaQuentin Miles, who had a game-best eight assists.
The 20-point lead was the biggest of the day. UCA got back within 47-38 at halftime and cut the spread to 49-44. It was 60-54 when Stewart unleashed his three straight 3-pointers and Davis added a fourth, but the Bears hung within nine until a Roberson free throw followed by a Frazier jump shot to move NSU ahead 77-65 with 11:12 left. It never got closer than 10 afterward.
"UCA is at least as athletic as any team we've played, and we needed to be very good offensively to win up here," said McConathy. "Unlike Thursday night (a loss at Oral Roberts when NSU went 10-12 on free throws), we got to the line a lot and had a great day shooting 3s, so we got a nice win to come home with."
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