NATCHITOCHES – Facing one of the best teams in the Southland Conference in its first home game in a month, Northwestern State came away with a handful of small victories in an otherwise tough 87-28 loss to Stephen F. Austin.
The Lady Demons (0-9, 0-4 SLC) cut their turnover total in half from the previous game, handling the constant SFA pressure well much of the night, and executed on offense with multiple noticeable hustle plays throughout.
“We’re trying to take away small victories right now,” first-year head coach Anna Nimz said. “We’ve got to keep finding those positives to continue to encourage the girls to do those things and continue working to fix the things we’re missing on.”
The Ladyjacks (13-4, 5-0 SLC) wasted little time showcasing their efficiency on the offensive and defensive ends. A 3-pointer 14 seconds into the game gave them the lead sparking a 17-0 run spanning the first five and a half minutes of the game. Five NSU turnovers during that stretch aided the lengthy opening run.
Anessa Dusette, who finished with a team-high 10 points, got the Lady Demons on the board at the 4:21 mark of the quarter. Her jumper was immediately answered with another 3-ball from SFA to push the lead to 18.
After adjusting to the pace and pressure of the SFA defense, NSU limited their turnovers following the opening five-minute period to one the rest of the quarter. The Lady Demons turned the ball over just twice the rest of the half.
“We knew going in it was going to be a tough game,” said Nimz. “I thought the girls played with more poise today against a great pressing team. And with the way they fall back in that extended 2-3 I thought our girls did good.
“Our 16 turnovers were the least that we’ve had in a long time and that was against one of the best programs in our conference. That was one of those small victories that we saw today.”
While the improvement securing the ball throughout the game created opportunities to score, those buckets would not fall through the net. NSU shot just 14 percent from the field in the first half and a paltry six percent in the first quarter, leaving the door open for SFA to build an insurmountable lead.
“We did some things that were really nice and I’m proud of them for that,” Nimz said. “But when we had the chance to get that bucket we were shooting over the lip of the rim instead of using the backboard, or taking long 2s instead of using one or two more dribbles to get to a higher percentage shot.
“The good news is though the more you shoot the more they’ll go in so that’s something that’s correctable. The nice thing about getting those shots, even though we missed them, is that we are getting them.”
SFA continued to apply the pressure throughout the second half, holding the Lady Demons to a 4-for-27 shooting effort while maintaining their blistering offense output, finishing the game making 54 percent of their shots.
“We’ve got to continue to believe in the process.” Nimz said. “Sometimes you can fall away from that when you look at the record, but it’s the only thing that works. We’ve got to hammer down on that and move forward. Looking forward to Saturday’s game, another road game, but we’ve been living on the road so it’s nothing new. Hope to have a couple of good practices and get on to that one.”
The Lady Demons embark on a three-game conference road swing beginning with Southeastern La., on Saturday afternoon.