The Lady Demons (7-18, 4-12) host rival Stephen F. Austin (20-5, 13-3) at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday with their work cut out for them over the next four games to earn a spot in the Southland Conference tournament.
Fans can hear the action live locally with Tony Taglavore on 92.3 FM The Fox. Live streaming audio and video is also available at www.nsudemons.com or on the NSU Athletics mobile app, which is available for download via the Apple Store or Google Play.
NSU battled back and won the fourth quarter in their most recent outing at Nicholls. Sending the Colonels to the free throw line more than 30 times proved too costly in the end. Without a weekend game to prepare for, interim head coach Aaron Swinson had a little extra time to ready his team for the final stretch.
“The past few days have been really good,” Swinson said. “I was really pleased with our practice over the weekend and Monday. I keep telling them we have to win the day first before we can play the game. I liked the effort I saw in those practices but at the same time we have to be mentally prepared to play against Stephen F. Austin.”
Practice how you play has been the mantra all season. Needing as many wins as possible, starting with Wednesday’s home finale against SFA, the Lady Demons hope the effort shown over the past few days translates into a better performance against one of the top teams in the conference.
“I want the players to understand if they give all their effort in practice, they should be able to do the same thing in the game,” Swinson said. “I was pleased with the effort in our last practice, but I want them to carry things over from one day to the next and build on that going forward.”
NSU suffered its biggest conference loss in the first meeting with the Ladyjacks this season, 89-40. The combination of 12 first half points for the Lady Demons against an offense that was clicking on all cylinders that night turned into a runaway quickly.
That was over a month ago and although the Ladyjacks still sit near the top of the conference standings, the Lady Demons are in a far different position as a whole entering the final matchup of the season.
NSU shot better than 37 percent from the field in the past two games, the first time it has done that this season. The uptick in offense simply boils down to confidence according to Swinson.
“You’re not going to make every shot, but you’ve got to work to prepare to make every shot,” Swinson said. “We have changed some things in our system because I feel like there are certain things that can cater to our players. But all comes down to the confidence. If you have that confidence you go out and you do it.”
NSU will need that offensive confidence against the top-rated defense in the conference giving up only 53.3 points per game to opponents.
SFA has already clinched a spot in the conference tournament but continues to battle for one of the top two seeds and subsequent double bye in the bracket. A loss in their game Saturday at UIW dropped them to second in the standings behind Sam Houston State.
“Stephen F. Austin is for real,” Swinson said. “They lost to UIW in their last game so they’re going to come out and want to take that out on us. We just need to settle in a do what we have to do, stick to the game plan, and hopefully things will work out for us.”
The Ladyjacks still average over 70 points per game but that number has dipped during the past three weeks. SFA has only scored more than 60 in a game three times since playing NSU on Jan. 22, a stretch of eight total games.
Despite the small downturn in production, SFA is still one of the most efficient offenses in the league, scoring on 44 percent of their shots and averaging more than 16.5 assists per game, one of just two teams doing that on the season.
“They run a lot of stuff,” Swinson said. “It’s one system that has a lot of options out of it. We want to try and dictate certain things to focus in on to defend well against.
“I showed them the film from our last game and talked about their effort. This is a different team we have today than what we had at their place. Let’s build from what we’ve worked on the past few weeks and not give our home fans that kind of effort we did there.”
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