Career-High: Ezekiel Charles Scores 31 Points in Overtime Win
NATCHITOCHES, La. – Ezekiel Charles caught fire in the second half, and it carried over into the overtime, with the senior leading the University of New Orleans (13-9, 8-3 Southland) to its fourth consecutive Southland Conference victory, an 81-73 win over Northwestern State University (8-15, 3-7 Southland) Wednesday evening at Prather Coliseum. The Privateers swept the series over the Demons behind Charles’ 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Charles added five steals, four rebounds and three assists, Damion Rosser and Scott Plaisance Jr. combined for 28 points, 11 rebounds and four steals and Troy Green off the bench with seven points and four assists. New Orleans erased a 13-point deficit in the first half to take a two-point lead into the break and came out on fire in the second, with a 14-0 run between the end of the first and start of the second.
The Demons led for 18:31 of the first half but it was New Orleans that entered the second half with a two-point lead. Northwestern State looked fresh from the tip, jumping out to a 13-2 lead with 17:16 remaining in the first. The Demons added a basket for a 13-point lead before Green’s put back ended the 7-0 NSU run. The relentless Privateers answered an Ishamel Lane layup with a coast to coast finish by Rosser but went into the under-16 media trailing 17-6 Moments later, down 20-8, Jahmel Myers drained a corner triple and Bryson Robinson drove to the hoop and was fouled. The junior made one-of-two from the line to cut the UNO deficit to eight with 13:01 to go. Green swiped an errant pass and followed with a pair of free throws, and after an NSU miss, Charles followed his miss with a layup for an 8-0 UNO run. The Demons extended their lead back to double figures on Dalin Williams’ layup, but Charles’ and-one at the 5:33 marker condensed the NSU cushion to seven. With 2:36 remaining, Charles found Jorge Rosa for a triple and the three made it a one-possession game in favor of NSU. The Privateers completed the comeback as the team that trailed by as much as 14 early in the game took a 35-34 lead with 1:13 remaining on free throws by Plaisance Jr. The score was 36-34 UNO at the half behind Plaisance Jr.’s eight points and three rebounds. Charles added eight points and three steals and Robinson, and Rosser picked up four rebounds apiece. Green came off the bench with seven points – five from the free throw line. Despite shooting 31.3 percent to NSU’s 52.0 percent, the Privateers made the most of their free throws, going 14-of-17 from the line, while the Demons shot just 50.0 percent from the charity stripe. Lane and C.J. Jones led NSU with eight points apiece and Lane added eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals in the first half.
The bread and butter of the squad shined early as Plaisance Jr.’s steal led to a Charles three. A moving screen and a foul forced head coach Mike McConathy to call a timeout one minute into the half. Charles made both free throws on the break (technical foul shots) and Plaisance Jr. made one-of-two to extend the UNO lead to eight. Including the end of the first half, UNO went on a 14-0 run before Larry Owens scored the first bucket of the second half for Northwestern State. Moments later, Plaisance Jr. swatted away a layup and Rosser finished the dunk off the Robinson bounce pass. New Orleans led 46-40 with 16:00 remaining. An acrobatic finish by Robinson off the Gates assist, followed by a Gates and-one gave the Privateers a 10-point lead with 12:29 left to play. A 15-3 Northwestern State run allowed the Demons to regain the lead 57-55 with 7:06 remaining as Lane provided the interior defensive presence, heading into the break with seven blocked shots. Despite the taller defenders, the Privateers held their own on the glass by the under-8 media, tying with 33 rebounds with 14 on the offensive end. A three-point parade ensued with Charles regaining the lead for UNO, LaTerrance Reed doing the same for NSU, only to have Rosser respond with a triple of his own. The back and forth led to a second chance basket for the Demons, putting the home team in front by one with five minutes remaining, and again, Rosser followed, this time with an old-fashioned three-point play. The sophomore’s and-one gave him 10 points in the stanza and the Privateers a 64-62 lead. Myers forced a turnover and Charles soared for the dunk for his fourth 20-point performance of the season. The defense continued to swarm, but Lane hit a fadeaway three to beat the buzzer to cut the UNO lead to one with less than three minutes to go. Owen’s put back with 1:41 remaining gave Northwestern State its fourth lead of the game, but again, the resilient Privateers did not budge, as senior Plaisance Jr. drained a triple with 1:09 left. Brandon Hutton stepped out of bounds with 38.3 ticks remaining to give UNO the ball with a two-point lead. Lane’s buzzer beater stood, and the Privateers and Demons went to overtime.
Lane and Charles traded baskets and after a steal that was tipped by Gates into the hands of Charles, Zeke connected on a pair from the line to put UNO ahead 73-71 with 3:38 remaining. The team’s leading rebounder didn’t have many tonight, but there was none bigger than his offensive board that led to a second chance basket to regain the lead for the Privateers. Following a heat shot by the Demons, an alley-oop from Rosser to Myers gave the Blue and Silver a four-point edge. Rosser’s steal with 42 seconds remaining all but sealed the win for the Privateers with Charles raising down to finish a layup. The Privateers made it four in a row with the 81-73 victory over the Demons.
INSIDE THE BOX
New Orleans shot 76.9 percent from the line, the fourth consecutive game over 70.0 percent… Charles’ 31 points mark the first 30-point game since Robinson’s 31 last season at McNeese (Jan. 3) … Charles’ five steals tie his career-high… the Privateers are 7-0 when scoring 70 or more… it was the seventh time UNO forced 20 turnovers.
The Privateers host Nicholls State University on Allstate Sugar Bowl Homecoming/Senior Day Saturday at 4:15 p.m. at Lakefront Arena. Prior to the men’s game, four seniors – Charles, Jorge Rosa, Tyren Harrison and Plaisance Jr. will be honored for their contributions to the men’s basketball program.
Article courtesy of University of New Orleans Sports Information Department.