Fast start not enough as Lady Demons fall to McNeese

NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State women’s basketball team played perhaps its finest first quarter of the season Saturday afternoon.

However, the Lady Demons were unable to sustain their hot start and fell to McNeese, 65-41, in Southland Conference action inside Prather Coliseum.

Playing its third straight home game after spending most of January on the road, Northwestern State (0-15, 0-10) hit 7 of its 14 first-quarter shots and led 15-13 after the first quarter.

“I think the girls did tremendous in the first quarter,” first-year head coach Anna Nimz said. “And really the first half defensively, we just couldn’t score in that second quarter. That’s unfortunately us right now. It was another incredible first half defensive effort, pulling down rebounds, and it was one of the few first quarters that we’ve won this year.”

Erin Harris started hot with an assist and jumper on the first two possessions of the game but her five first-quarter points were all that would come for the freshman guard.

A turnover-filled second quarter for both teams provided McNeese (5-9, 5-2) with a chance to take the lead, and the Cowgirls did just that as the Lady Demons hit just 1 of 16 shots from the floor, allowing McNeese to enter halftime with a five-point lead.

NSU pulled together one final run in the third quarter, slicing the lead to 3 on Tristen Washington’s corner 3 with 2:13 to play in the third.

Washington’s 3 capped a 9-0 run by the Lady Demons that turned the 34-22 game into a one-possession game late in the period. Four quick points from the Cowgirls in the final 40 seconds of the quarter however would begin the final slide to defeat.

The Lady Demons pulled no closer in the final 12-plus minutes as Kyla Hamilton went on a personal 11-1 run across 4:19 of the third and fourth quarters. Hamilton finished with a game-high 21 points and was one of three Cowgirls to crack double figures as McNeese shot 50 percent (16-for-32) in the second half.

“We forced so many turnovers in the first half and again in the second,” Nimz said. “We talk a lot about not allowing our offense to determine our defense, because we’re not a good shooting team right now, but our errors were more side stuff.

We were giving up on plays, pouting, not getting back, not rotating out of frustration and we allowed some of the adversity to set in. The second that set in we stopped fighting in a productive way. Our production went down because we started getting away from playing through the team.”

Divine Tanks (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Le’Shenae Stubblefield (13) joined Hamilton in double figures.

Washington led Northwestern State with 10 points while Julia Sion equaled Tanks’ 10 rebounds for game-high honors. It was the first time this season NSU had a player reach double-digits in rebounding and a new career high for Sion.

The Lady Demons return to action Wednesday when they host Nicholls at 6:30 inside Prather Coliseum.