Northwestern State caps challenging trip at Washington State

NCAA Basketball

There are coaches who talk about playing any opponent at any time at anyplace.

Northwestern State’s Mike McConathy can walk the walk.

McConathy’s Demons (1-9) are scheduled to play a nonconference game against Washington State (7-0) on Wednesday night in Pullman, Wash. It will be Northwestern State’s fifth game in six days and third in as many nights, following defeats to top-ranked Gonzaga on both Monday and Tuesday.

Who would agree to face the nation’s No. 1 team on consecutive days?

“I’m not sure,” McConathy joked Tuesday after Northwestern State’s 95-78 loss in Spokane, Wash. “I’ve been looking for the person who did that.”

Following a 95-57 loss Monday, the Demons fell behind 43-17 at the half in the rematch. However, they scored 61 points after the intermission to put some pressure on the Zags. Jarius Roberson led a balanced attack with 15 points, making 4 of 6 attempts from 3-point range.

“And 20 years from now, our kids will look back and think, ‘Man, we played the No. 1 team not once but twice,’ ” McConathy said. “Sometimes it’s more about the experience than it is the record.”

The Demons will face a Washington State team off to its best start since 2007-08, when Tony Bennett’s Cougars opened 14-0 before losing at No. 5 UCLA.

The Cougars are coming off a 90-62 victory against Prairie View A&M on Monday. Efe Abogidi had his second straight double-double, producing 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Washington State, which had to rally from halftime deficits in each of its first four games this season, has won by 28 points in each of its past two games.

“It’s been funny with the COVID and trying to figure out what exactly you can get accomplished,” Cougars coach Kyle Smith said. “Obviously I think our identity has been our defense, our rebounds have been slow to come along, but I think starting big has really helped us and we want to be better offensively with our efficiency.”

Smith said he has been pleased with his team’s recent play, especially late in the nonconference portion of the schedule as the holidays approach.

“I talked to our team this week, I said, ‘A lot of coaches have gone into this deal, it’s hard to coach our guys, there’s no energy, this and that,’ ” Smith said. “I said, ‘Geez, my job is to make sure you guys are inspired to play. That’s our job coaching, we should be appreciative of these opportunities and grateful because the alternative is sitting home watching Netflix.'”

–Field Level Media

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