NATCHITOCHES - True freshman Zikiteran Woodley joined returning standouts Jalan West and DeQuan Hicks by scoring 17 points apiece Friday night as 2013 NCAA Tournament entry Northwestern State cruised by visiting LeTourneau 92-76 in the Demons' basketball season opener.
Hicks, last year's Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year, added 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. West, the 2012-13 Southland Freshman of the Year, snagged four steals after ranking 17th nationally last season with a 2.3 steals average.
Woodley, the three-time Class C state player of the year at Pelican-All Saints High School, sank six of nine shots, five of seven free throws and grabbed seven rebounds in 18 minutes.
Senior guard Brison White added 12 points for the Demons, who visit Auburn next Friday night before going to LSU an evening later.
Ten players scored and 13 played, with nobody getting more than 24 minutes and 10 getting at least 14 minutes for NSU against the outmatched Division III visitors. The Demons ranked second nationally in scoring a year ago with an 80.0 average.
LeTourneau, which counted the contest as an exhibition game, had four players in double figures. Ladaria Brown scored 14 but was overshadowed by Justin Jones, who had 19 rebounds, 10 offensive, while scoring 13 points. Chris Hynes and Jake Kennedy each scored 10 for the YellowJackets.
With 15 rejections, the Demons threatened the school single-game record for blocked shots, 17 against Ouachita Baptist in 1991. Junior center Marvin Frazier, who was a pallbearer in a funeral earlier Friday, blocked a career-best seven shots and grabbed nine rebounds, matching his career high.
Northwestern sank 30 of 35 free throws, with Hicks and West each going 5-for-5, but missed all 17 of its 3-point tries. The Demons sank 31 of 61 inside 3-point range.
NSU faltered after racing to a quick 12-4 lead in a first half with five ties and five lead changes. The Demons were up 39-34 at halftime, scored the first two baskets afterward on a Hicks jumper and Gary Stewart's layup after a steal by Hicks, and led by double figures for the final 17:20.
The margin climbed up to 23 points in the final five minutes.
"We were trying to play too pretty," said 15th-year coach Mike McConathy. "We had a nice crowd (1,612) for a Friday night opener and got away from making good plays trying to make flashy ones. Also, LeTourneau is very well coached, got a lot of back-cut layups on us, and played really hard and well.
"We have work to do, but we did a good job of staying aggressive defensively and making shots at the free throw line," he said.
The Demons, sixth nationally last season in steals (9.6 per game), had 16 Friday night while the YellowJackets suffered 25 turnovers. NSU lost the ball 18 times.