Lady Demons eye big “Pack Prather” boost as Stephen F. Austin visits

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Nautica Grant ranks second in the Southland Conference in 3-point shooting at 42.1 percent. Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

Saturday’s Southland Conference doubleheader between visiting Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State is NSU’s annual “Pack Prather” promotion.

When it comes to defense in the women’s half of the afternoon twinbill, packing in each team’s defense could prove detrimental to the cause. That’s because the Ladyjacks and Lady Demons enter the 1:02 p.m. tipoff at Prather Coliseum as the top two 3-point shooting percentage teams in the Southland Conference.

Stephen F. Austin sits atop the conference in 3-point shooting at 36.1 percent while the Lady Demons sit second, knocking down 34.4 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.

In addition to an ESPN3 broadcast, Saturday’s conference game can be heard on 100.7 FM KZBL and on the Demon Sports Network. Streaming audio is available at www.NSUDemons.com/watch and on the Northwestern State Athletics mobile app, which can be downloaded through the Apple Store or Google Play. Tony Taglavore, in his 11th season, will handle the play-by-play call of the game.

This is the second meeting of the season between the longtime rivals, who will play for the 82nd time in the series’ history. Stephen F. Austin won the first game, 84-56 on Jan. 12, on the strength of its outside shooting.

“They hurt us on the block, and when we tried to do some things to keep our rotations down, they spread us out and went 16-for-28 from 3,” third-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “Once the first three or four went down, everyone felt like, ‘Hey, now it’s my turn.’ They had post players coming off the bench who shot it. I think the manager got in, shot one and made it. We got them rolling.”

In order to slow conference-leading Stephen F. Austin (20-3, 11-0), Dupuy said his team has to start quickly and be more physical.

The Lady Demons (8-15, 3-9) found themselves starting slowly against Lamar, surrendering 39 points in the first quarter of a 94-70 loss Wednesday night.

“We’re going to have to do some different things,” Dupuy said. “We have to be in much more of an attack mentality. If you deliver the first blow, you realize you can play with this team, you can beat this team, especially on your home court.”

The “Pack Prather” promotion is something Dupuy cited as having the potential to affect positively his team.

The Lady Demons are 2-0 in the opening half of doubleheaders with the Demons men’s team, which faces Stephen F. Austin at 3:32 p.m. Saturday. The first win was a 19-point romp against McNeese on Jan. 5 while Northwestern State put together its first fourth-quarter comeback victory of the season in a 58-47 win against Southeastern Louisiana on Jan. 26.

As the Prather crowd grew late against the Lady Lions, the Lady Demons finished the game by holding Southeastern Louisiana to four points in the final quarter while the NSU offense found its footing and delivered one of its most effective five-minute bursts of the season.

“It’s extremely important to have a great crowd,” Dupuy said. “We feed off our crowd, especially our band. Our band does a great job getting after the other team, being behind our ladies and creating an atmosphere. It adds 10, 15, 20 points. We may not be playing our best, but when that crowd comes in and we make one or two plays in a row, we feed off that crowd.”