Second-quarter struggles lead to Lady Demons defeat

CONWAY, Ark. – Northwestern State stunned Central Arkansas early, but a lackluster offensive output in the second quarter leading to a long UCA run sealed NSU’s fate, falling 71-39 on Saturday afternoon.

Freshman Erin Harris drained a game-opening 3 and then swished another two minutes later putting the Lady Demons (0-12, 0-7 SLC) up 8-3 and forcing an early timeout. The offensive slump began there as the Sugar Bears (5-10, 3-4 SLC) went on a 48-13 run over the next quarter and a half of play.

“The girls came out strong, really focused and shooting well,” first-year head coach Anna Nimz said. “Thought we came out and found that confidence we were looking for early, just went dry there in that second quarter. I also think we started to rush shots there instead of running some sets and creating for themselves.”

Harris scored her eighth points of the quarter on a jumper with 2:44 left in the first giving NSU the late 10-7 lead. Two free throws and layup from UCA put them ahead with less than a minute to go, the first of three lead changes in the final 60 seconds. The Sugar Bears went up for good with two more free shots with 12 seconds left in the first.

Tristen Washington scored early in the second, then found another layup two minutes later but NSU would miss on its next eight attempts of the quarter and nine overall, going scoreless for more than 10 minutes of game time.

The early saving grace for the Lady Demons was UCA too would see a lengthy scoreless stretch of their own, going 0-for-3 from the field with four turnovers following Washington’s second layup. The switch flipped however in the final three minutes as they closed the half on a 9-0 run that sparked a huge third quarter explosion.

UCA scored 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting in the third asserting their dominance on the glass along the way, outrebounding NSU 12-1 during that time.

Anessa Dussette and Andreea Cojocariu combined to be the offense for NSU in the period getting all 11 points. Dussette had six of her eight points in the quarter including four in the final minutes and a half.

Washington finished the game strong for the Lady Demons in the fourth with eight of her team-leading 12 points, making consecutive 3’s with less than a minute to go, giving her a double-digit game for the second time in a row.

“We definitely saw some things today that we haven’t seen from the girls,” Nimz said. “The score’s not indicative of it, but there are a lot of small victories. We’re fighting some silly stuff that’s haunting us, but we can grow from today. That UNO game we were pretty frustrating across the board, but there are some points that we can take today moving into our next game next Saturday.”

The Lady Demon and a midweek bye for the first time since the beginning of the month and return to Prather Coliseum for seven of the final eight games of the season. A four-game home stretch begins next Saturday with NSU hosting Houston Baptist at 1 p.m.

“We’ve got to keep trying to get them to believe in themselves and let them know we believe in them,” Nimz said. “That was the last thing I said to them before leaving the locker room and made sure they looked me in the face when I said it.

“It’s tough what they’re going through and what we’re going through as a program. So, if we can focus on anything as a staff it’s getting them to believe we can get a win, regardless of when it happens.”

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Photo courtesy of UCA Athletics