Harris, Cummings shine but Lady Demons fall to SLU

NATCHITOCHES – A long second-quarter scoring drought and 0-for-11 effort from beyond the arc kept Northwestern State from picking up their first win of the season against a hot Southeastern Louisiana team.

The Lady Demons (0-18, 0-13) played solid basketball through the majority of the game, but Southeastern (10-6, 8-4) eyeing a Southland Conference Tournament berth would not be denied its sixth straight win 73-39 on Saturday afternoon.

Neither team came out of the gate lighting up the scoreboard. A combined 5-for-19 shooting effort through the first five minutes made for a low-scoring close game. The freshman duo of Erin Harris and Osha Cumming made consecutive shots to put the Lady Demons up 6-5 early.

SLU found their way following the media and ended the frame with five points in the final minute to take the 15-8 lead into the second.

A pair of early buckets from Harris kept the game close to start the second, but the turning point came right after Harris’ second bucket, when the Lady Demons fell into one of their longest cold stretches in the past several games.

For more than seven minutes of the quarter, NSU could not find a field goal, the only point coming on a Claudia Vidal free throw with 48 seconds remaining. Meanwhile, SLU almost couldn’t miss, at least for the first five minutes of the quarter.

The 20-1 second quarter run was ignited by a 5-for-6 stretch that turned a six-point game into the 38-13 halftime affair. The Lady Lions were 9-for-14 from the field outside a small 0-for-3 drought right out of the media timeout.

“I think our biggest problem was we never had five collective working at the same time,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “We just never found consistency with a group which is why you saw a bunch of subs trying to find that fit. Nothing good comes if we’re not collectively focused and working hard.”

As they’ve done many times this season the Lady Demons came out with more focus and execution in the second half. The shots that weren’t falling in the first 20 minutes began to find their homes in the second.

A 3-for-4 stretch gave the Lady Demons some life midway through the quarter and some increased confidence going into the fourth, despite finishing with an 0-for-8 stretch from the field. A more than three-minute scoreless stretch allowed SLU to extend its lead to 56-29 entering the fourth.

It was Harris and Cummings that provided the bulk of the sparks for NSU in the game. Back-to-back jumpers for Cummings in the fourth injected life into the bench, along with her team-leading eight rebounds.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it boils down to heart and effort,” Nimz said of the 5-foot-4 guard who led the team in rebounding for the third straight game. “I think Erin took a handful of shots that maybe would be deemed not good shots, and we talked about it, but I think she felt like she needed to take those shots. She connected on a lot and started the game well which really sticks out to me. She got downhill a lot and didn’t rely on the 3-point line.”

Harris finished the game with a career high 15 points going 7-for-16 from the field. It was her second double-digit scoring night in the past three games.

The Lady Demons continue their season-ending three-game home stand on Wednesday with New Orleans.

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Photo Credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services

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