CONWAY, Arkansas – It wasn’t the senior finale for Northwestern State that it hoped for on Saturday, thanks to a surprising performance from beyond the arc by Central Arkansas.
The Sugar Bears (13-16, 9-11 SLC) entered the game with the least made 3-point shots in the county. They went 9-for-18 against the Lady Demons (7-22, 4-16 SLC) in the final game of the season, giving NSU the 80-62 loss.
“We knew number three was going to be the shooter coming in,” interim head coach Aaron Swinson said. “Her outside shot had been incredible the past couple games so we wanted to try and make her put the ball on the floor.”
UCA’s Romola Dominguez was the sniper for the home team who knocked down 6-of-11 shots from behind the arc with a 4-for-6 effort from deep in the first half helping UCA to a 43-25 lead.
The Lady Demons took an early 6-5 lead thanks to a pair of seniors, Jasmyn Johnson and Victoria Miller, making consecutive shots. UCA jumped ahead a minute later on a pair of free throws, the final lead chance of the day.
Jocelyn Scott and Gabby Bell cut the lead down to one possession before the end of the quarter, but the first major scoring drought of the game fell upon the Lady Demons. UCA built their lead to double digits with a 9-0 run with 2:20 left in the opening quarter. NSU scored the final four points of the first but were still down 21-14, but had some momentum.
A quick 6-1 stretch early in the second got the Lady Demons back within four on a Scott jumper at the 6:07 mark of the quarter. The final but of momentum was expended on a 3-pointer from Johnson 20 seconds later, making it a 30-24 game. That was when the second and even more severe scoring drought afflicted the Lady Demons.
UCA finished the half on a 13-1 run that put plenty of distance between themselves and the Lady Demons at 43-25.
“They were a tough team in terms of physical strength,” Swinson said. “I told them early on this team was going to be the most physical team we’ve played all season and they were. Boxing out and finishing plays were a couple of keys for this game and we didn’t do much of it in the first half. The second half we came back and did that a little more and played tougher mentally and physically.”
The Lady Demons got as close as 11 in the fourth quarter on a Johnson 3-pointer, but the physical play around the basket by the Sugar Bears proved too much on the day.
UCA dominated the glass on both ends of the floor, outrebounding NSU 42-30 in the game and 31-21 on the defensive glass.
“Our season wasn’t what it should have been or what we wanted it to be but we wanted to spoil somebody else’s season,” Swinson said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do that. Hats off to Central Arkansas. They played well against us both times and we just have to figure out some things for the future.”
Johnson finished her final week as a Lady Demons with two of the top-five scoring efforts of her career, adding 19 to a career-high 23 from Wednesday. Miller recorded her third double-double of the season with a career-high 17 points, fulfilling the promise she made to Swinson before the game.
“I just told them to go out and play hard,” Swinson said. “Vic told me before the game that she wanted to give me her all and she said ‘Coach I’m going to give you everything I’ve got. You deserve it and this team deserves it.”
NSU finishes the season at 7-22 overall and 4-16 in conference play.
Stay connected to NSU women’s basketball by following @NSUDemonsWBB on Twitter, @nsuladydemons on Instagram or by liking Northwestern State women’s basketball on Facebook.