NATCHITOCHES – A late dip in offensive production cost Northwestern State its Southland Conference opener on Wednesday afternoon, falling 79-69 to Sam Houston.
After taking the lead into the fourth quarter, the Lady Demons (3-6, 0-1 SLC) tied the game at 64 with just over five minutes remaining. An 0-for-7 slump from the field over the next four minutes of play allowed Sam Houston (5-4, 1-0 SLC) to build a 10-point lead that carried it to the first win in 10 tries at Prather Coliseum.
“We did a lot of good things and were tough for the most part, but towards the end when it counts the most, we didn’t finish,” fourth-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “You’ve got to finish plays.
“In conference all the games come down to the simple things because everybody knows what everybody’s running. It’s finishing layups, which we missed 12 of tonight. That’s 24 points off the board. It’s the little things like that that stick to you and hurt.”
Tied at eight after a Nakaylis Washington 3-pointer with 3:34 left in the first quarter, NSU saw Sam Houston score the next 11 points in a row, despite missing the SLC’s top scorer Amber Leggett who was sidelined with foul trouble. Victoria Miller ended the 11-0 Kat run with a jumper near the buzzer to make it a 19-10 affair after the first 10 minutes.
Leggett picked up her third foul of the game early in the second quarter, and the Lady Demons took advantage of her absence from the floor.
NSU closed a nine-point gap with a 10-2 run that ended with six straight points from Jasmyn Johnson making it a 23-22 game with 6:25 left in the half. A pair of Sam Houston 3-pointers, combined with some critical misses by the Lady Demons, made it an eight-point game less than two minutes later.
NSU finished the half on a flurry, converting on five consecutive possessions to cut the 36-26 Sam Houston lead down to just a pair with two long balls from Kalen Green bookending the stretch. Her second dagger from beyond the arc made it 40-38 Bearkats heading into the break.
An early 3-ball from Tristen Washington, followed by a layup from Lacee Savage, gave the Lady Demons a 43-42 lead early in the third quarter. Six lead changes later, and nine straight points from Leggett, Sam Houston had a 53-51 advantage. Another jumper put them up four with 3:12 to go.
Three free throws and a jumper from Johnson in the final minute however created the final two of 10 total lead changes in the third quarter. Nakaylis Washington dropped in a jumper at the buzzer to put NSU up 58-57 going to the fourth.
The teams played even through the first four and a half minutes of the final period. Both made runs of 6-0 or better, leaving the game knotted at 64 with 5:38 left.
The 0-for-7 slump for the Lady Demons over the next four minutes was exacerbated by the 3-for-7 from the field and 5-for-8 effort from the free throw line by Sam Houston, creating the 10-point lead that carried them to victory.
“Sam Houston is going to be right there at the end of the season,” Dupuy said. “To me they’re one of the toughest and most physical team that I think we’ll play. They guard you hard on the ball and they did it for 94 feet for all 40 minutes. You’ve got to take what you can, accentuate the positive, correct the negative and then go try and steal one at Lamar.”
Photo Credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services