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KATY, Texas (WGNO) Derek St. Hilaire went off for a season-best 31 points, which included 25 in the second half, as the New Orleans men’s basketball team pulled off the comeback in a thrilling 80-79 victory over Northwestern State on Saturday afternoon to conclude the Privateers stay at the 2022 Southland Tipoff Tournament.

With the win, UNO won its consolation bracket with back-to-back victories and placed fifth overall in the inaugural conference tournament.

THE BASICS
FINAL SCORE: New Orleans – 80, Northwestern State –79
LOCATION: Leonard E. Merrell Center – Katy, Texas
RECORDS: New Orleans 6-8 (0-0 SLC), Northwestern State 4-13 (0-0 SLC)

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– St. Hilaire went off for a season-best 31 points on 8-of-18 shooting to go along with a 13-16 mark from the charity stripe. He also chipped in a game-high five steals, four rebounds, three assists and a block. The 31-point outburst was the best performance put up by a Southland Conference student-athlete so far this season and was the third 30-plus point game of his career. The Atlanta, Ga. native has now posted eight games with 20 or more points and 12 double-digit games overall. Today’s 13 made free throws set a new career-high for St. Hilaire and ranked as the second-highest total posted by a Southland student-athlete this year.
– Senior Troy Green was all over the floor as he finished with 14 points, five boards, three steals, two assists and a block. The St. Rose, La. native went 7-of-11 from the field as he recorded a new season-high in field goals made.
– Big man Tyson Jackson had another strong game as he posted 10 points (on 5-of-7 shooting) to go with four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a rejection. The Fairburn, Ga. native is now shooting 54.3 percent on the season, tied for the third-best mark in the Southland (as of press time).
– Simeon Kirkland was efficient in 22 minutes of play as he recorded eight points, six boards and two assists. He went 2-of-3 from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe.
– Kmani Doughty (six points), D’Ante Bell (four) and De’Sean Allen-Eikens (four) combined for the Privateers 14 points off the bench. Bell also set a new career-high as he finished with a team-best seven rebounds in just 12 minutes of play.
– New Orleans recorded its sixth game of the season and second contest in a row in which the team finished at a 50 percent or better clip from the field. UNO is 5-1 in games this year when the team shoots greater than 50 percent.
– The Privateers finished with more points in the paint (46 to 32), points off turnovers (25 to 14) and fast break points (14 to 10).
– Today’s thriller featured eight times that the game was tied and 14 lead changes overall.

HOW IT HAPPENED
 – Both New Orleans and Northwestern State started the contest sizing each other up as the two squads played to a 14-14 deadlock over the first 7:29 of the game.
– Over the next seven minutes of play, UNO went on a 15-9 run to take a 29-23 edge with 5:31 left in the opening half.
– The Demons answered the run with an 8-2 one of their own as they fought the game back to a tie at 31 with 2:55 in the first.
– Northwestern State then ended the half on back-to-back three’s to take a 37-33 advantage into the locker room.
– NWS picked up right where the team ended the first half as the squad raced out to a 49-39 lead with 17:31 left in the contest.
– That is when the Privateers made their move, boosted by 13 points in a row from St. Hilaire, as UNO raced back to trail just 53-50 with 14:27 left.
– The two teams would then continue to trade the lead back and forth before Northwestern State was able to jump ahead by four, 77-73, with just 4:40 in the contest.
– Over the final four-plus minutes of the game, UNO would close on a 7-3 run. St. Hilaire hit a free throw, followed by a Kirkland layup that gave New Orleans a 77-76 lead with 1:58 left. St. Hilaire would then knock down two more free throws, and following a Demon layup, Kirkland hit two more from the charity stripe with a minute left to play.
– A final frantic charge was turned aside as Northwestern State got three looks at the basket before the final horn as New Orleans closed out the 80-79 victory.

NEXT UP
New Orleans has one final test before conference play begins as the Privateers play host to local foe Dillard on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 7 PM CT at the UNO Lakefront Arena.

Southland play then begins on Saturday, Jan. 15 with UNO hosting Nicholls at 4 PM CT on the Lakefront.

Both contests next week will also be featured nationwide on ESPN+.

{Press release courtesy of UNO Athletics}