Lady Demons make quick road trip to face Sam Houston State

Victoria Miller (right) and Northwestern State play their final road game of the month Wednesday when they travel to Sam Houston State on Wednesday. Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Listening to Jordan Dupuy discuss the Sam Houston State women’s basketball team makes it sound a lot like the third-year head coach is describing his Northwestern State Lady Demons.

“They play up-tempo,” he said. “They play extremely hard. They create pressure with the bounce. They have players who can spot up and shoot it.”

The seemingly similar Southland Conference foes match up for the lone time this season Wednesday night, tipping off at 6:30 p.m. at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. The game will air on ESPN3 and can be heard on 100.7 FM KZBL in Natchitoches and on the Demon Sports Network.

Free streaming audio is available on and through the new Northwestern State Athletics mobile app, which can be downloaded at the Apple Store or through Google Play. Tony Taglavore, in his 11th season, will handle the play-by-play call of the game.

In their first season under head coach Ravon Justice, the Bearkats (8-7, 3-2) already have surpassed their overall win total and conference win total from the 2017-18 season. Sam Houston State has done so by being much more efficient offensively.

After averaging 56.2 points per game a season ago, the Bearkats enter Wednesday’s game as the Southland Conference’s third-highest scoring team at 72.2 points per game.

Much like the Lady Demons, who remain the national leader in forcing turnovers at 26 per game, the Bearkats have leaned on their defense as well. Sam Houston State ranks third in the conference in steals per game (11.5) while Northwestern State ranks second in that category (13.1). Individually, Sam Houston State’s Jaylonn Walker ranks second in the conference and 22nd nationally at 3.07 steals per game.

“They’re playing extremely hard, extremely confident,” Dupuy said. “They’re playing a different style of basketball, and they’re creating a different kind of culture there, one the players are responding to. Ravon’s done a great job with them. Being picked at the bottom of the conference also motivates you. They’ve taken a huge step in the right direction. It’s going to be a very difficult game Wednesday night.”

After splitting their first two conference games, the Lady Demons (6-10, 1-4) have dropped three straight, two of which came on the road.

Wednesday’s trip marks the lone away game in a four-game stretch for Northwestern State, which returns home Saturday to host Southeastern Louisiana. The Lady Demons’ latest road game – their fourth in a six-game stretch – gives them another chance to find what has been missing at home and away this season.

“We have to get more consistent,” Dupuy said. “We continue to play hard and fight from behind, but we’ve got to play, from an execution standpoint, more consistently on both ends.

“There are times we score in bunches, and then we go a while and not score. There are times we get a bunch of stops and force turnovers, but we allow a bunch of runs to happen. The consistency has to be there, especially when you’re trying to win a road game in conference.”