BEAUMONT, Texas – Northwestern State nearly erased a 12-point fourth quarter deficit on Saturday against Lamar, falling three points shy 61-58, and dropping to 0-2 in Southland Conference play.
“We very easily could have won this one,” fourth-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “We shot 48 percent from the field but at the same time had eight missed layups, so you’re talking about a much better percent if we make those.
“I saw a lot of positivity though, but sooner or later it’s got to translate into victories. There’s no such thing as moral victories, especially in conference. Every conference game is going to come down to the fourth quarter and we’ve got to make sure we’re finishing games like we need to.”
NSU could not have asked for a better start to the contest, jumping out to a 12-4 lead through the first five minutes of play, stunning the Cardinals. The next five minutes though would belong to the home team.
Lamar erased the NSU start and took the lead in a flash with a 10-0 run to finish the quarter and a 14-12 advantage into the first break.
NSU saw spurts of exceptional play in a tightly contested second quarter, but one of the Achilles’ heels of the game began to show itself throughout the second 10 minutes of the game. The Lady Demons committed six turnovers in the second period, matching the total from the first, for 12 in the first half, leading to 13 Lamar points.
Despite the uptick in turnovers and sending Lamar to the free throw line 16 times in the first half, the Lady Demons only trailed by a pair, 25-23 at the half.
The teams continued the tight play into the third quarter, staying within one possession of each other for more than seven minutes of game time. Three quick points from Lacee Savage midway through the third on a jumper and a free throw knotted the game at 31. A Nakaylis Washington layup after a Lamar free throw put NSU on top 33-32 with 3:35 left in the quarter.
Four turnovers, a couple of missed shots, and a missed free throw later and Lamar turned a one-point deficit into a 43-36 lead heading into the final quarter.
Two monster 3-pointers within the first minute of the fourth gave Lamar its largest lead of the game at 49-36. Freshman Tristen Washington answered with a pair of shots from distance of her own a few moments later but it was still an eight-point game.
The Lady Demons found themselves down by 12 with just 4:43 left in the ball game after a near dagger of a 3-pointer from Lamar’s Amber Vidal. Eight straight points, seven of which coming from senior Kira Bonner, over the next three minutes made it a two-possession game at 57-53.
After a pair of free throws made it a six-point game, a scramble for a loose ball near midcourt ended with a Nakaylis Washington 3-ball from the corner with 53 seconds left to make it a 56-53 affair. An ensuing Cardinal miss gave NSU the ball with a chance to tie the game with less than 30 seconds remaining.
That’s where the comeback ended for the Lady Demons. Whistled for a 10th offensive foul of the game, the ball went back to Lamar allowing it to seal the slim victory.
“The effort was there,” Dupuy said. “The other e-word that we’ve got to get better with is our execution. Because they played so hard, they almost overcame the missed free throws, layups, and turnovers we had tonight. You can be negative about those things or you can look at it as we had unbelievable effort and we can control those three areas and get better with them real quick.”
Photo Credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services