HOUSTON – Junior Darius Lee exploded for 30 points off the bench and HBU overcame a 12-point first-half deficit to pick up a 99-93 overtime win in the team’s Southland Conference opener against Northwestern State on Saturday evening in Sharp Gym.
The Demons (1-11, 0-1 SLC) took the lead early, and guard Trenton Massner scored the first 10 points for NSU, putting his team ahead 10-6 just over three minutes in. NSU kept the Huskies (2-7, 1-0 SLC) at bay in the first half, building its lead as high as 12, 43-31, with 3:12 left in the period. HBU was able to cut that deficit down to 47-40 heading into the intermission.
In the first half, the Huskies shot just 34.3 percent (12-of-35) while the Demons connected on 54.5 percent (18-of-33) and held a 24-17 advantage on the boards. HBU managed to keep it close by turning the ball over just twice in the half.
In the second half, after Larry Owens put NSU ahead 49-41, HBU went on a 15-4 run to pull ahead 56-53 with 14:29 on the clock. Less than two minutes later, the Demons regained a two-point lead but a 10-2 burst from the Huskies pushed the HBU lead to six, 66-60, with 10 minutes to go.
NSU pulled back to within one a couple of times before the HBU lead returned to six after a Ty Dalton layup before the Demons went on a 10-2 run of their own and led 77-75 under the three-minute mark. Lee responded with a bucket to even the score but NSU worked its way back up to a five-point lead, 84-79 with just 52 seconds remaining.
Pedro Castro then drilled a three less than 20 seconds later, cutting the HBU deficit to just two. The Huskies got a stop on the ensuing Demons’ possession and gained possession with just seven seconds to go. Lee drove to the basket and was fouled just two seconds before the buzzer, connecting on both free throws to send the game to an extra period.
HBU scored the first six points in overtime, keeping the Demons off the board for more than half of the extra period. In the final minute, Jairus Roberson knocked down a trey to pull the Demons within two but Lee answered with a pair of made free throws with 25 seconds left before the Huskies made another stop and Hunter Janacek iced the game with two more from the charity stripe with 12 seconds on the clock.
Lee set a new career-high for the third game in a row, hitting 9-of-14 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the free-throw line with pulling down a career-best 10 rebounds. The junior also had three assists to go with a steal and a blocked shot. Lee is now averaging 18 points per game and shooting 61.5 percent from the floor over his last four games.
Castro also posted a double-double, his second of the season, with 19 points and 11 rebounds. The junior was 7-of-10 from the floor. Janacek added 16 points while freshman Za-Ontay Boothman had 13. Freshman Jade Tse led all players with a career-high six assists.
Northwestern State was led by Larry Owens who finished the night with 24 points, making 8-of-10 from the floor and 8-of-8 from the foul line. Massner added 22 for the Demons.
The Huskies finished the night shooting 44.4 percent (32-of-72) overall and 37.5 percent (12-of-32) from three. At the charity stripe, HBU knocked down 76.7 percent (23-of-30). The Huskies also won the rebounding battle, 47-41, for just the third time so far this season.
HBU will next host Abilene Christian for a mid-week SLC matchup on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 7:00 p.m.