KATY, Texas (AP) -- DeQuan Hicks scored 21 points and nabbed 10 rebounds and fourth-seeded Northwestern State's big opening half laid the groundwork for an 88-72 victory over No. 5 seed Nicholls State in a Southland Conference quarterfinal matchup on Thursday.
Jalen West, the Southland's defensive player of the year, opened the game with a 3-pointer in what ignited a 10-2 run for the Demons -the defending tournament champions- who never trailed in the game.
Northwestern State (17-13) led by as many as 20 points in the first half before settling for a 43-28 halftime lead over Nicholls State. The Colonels (14-15) fought to within eight points with 13:46 to play in the second period before the Demons pulled away again.
West and Marvin Frazier Jr. added 18 points each for Northwestern State, which advances to a semifinal game against top-seeded Stephen F. Austin on Friday.
Jeremy Smith topped Colonel scorers with 24 points.