It’s been one step and one day at a time for Northwestern State women’s basketball the past two weeks. The first road win of the season on Saturday was another indication of the progress towards the ultimate goal.
“I’m happy but I’m not satisfied,” interim head coach Aaron Swinson said. “One thing I can say is that it was a progression from the UNO game up to Houston Baptist. I knew at some point we were going to be able incorporate the things we’re trying to do on offense and defense.
“Most importantly I’m happy for the team and the staff, they both did a great job. I told them to enjoy the rest of the weekend, but now it’s back to work.”
The Lady Demons (6-16, 3-10 SLC) aim to continue that progression in the final of a three-game road trip across the state of Texas against Incarnate Word (10-11, 6-6 SLC) on Wednesday night.
Fans can follow the action live with Tony Taglavore on 92.3 FM The Fox beginning at 6:30 p.m. Live streaming audio is also available on www.nsudemons.com or the NSU Athletics mobile app, which is available for download via the Apple Store or Google Play.
Preparation is the key to performance and has been the battle cry for the Lady Demons all season. While the results have not always been in their favor, the evidence was clear in the win on Saturday against HBU.
Following what was, according to Swinson, one of the more demanding practices of the year, the Lady Demons got their first road win and outrebounded a team by 10 or more for the first time this season. With the immediate success on the court, it is no surprise the game plan against a scrappy UIW squad.
“We’re going to have a practice similar to the one we had the night before HBU,” Swinson said. “It’s a challenging practice, a physical practice, a mental practice and if those young ladies endure that we should have some success.
“We want to win but if they can win at certain parts throughout the game hopefully that can carry over into the next quarter, the next minute, the next second and you never know what the outcome can be.”
It came down to two opportunities in the final seconds of overtime for UIW to escape with the 69-67 win at Prather Coliseum in early January after seeing a 13-point advantage disappear. A pair of offensive rebounds for the Cardinals allowed for the buzzer-beating winner to fall through the net.
Rebounding and boxing out have been key points for the Lady Demons all season but feel more important in a game on Wednesday knowing how the first meeting ended. Although it may sound elementary, it comes down to having the ball for the Lady Demons, something you can’t do without solid, effort-filled rebounding throughout the night.
“We have to play for 40 minutes,” Swinson said. “And it’s a lot about possession of the ball. We’ve talked about that a lot and really emphasized it, especially going into this game. You’ve got to have possession of the basketball, no matter what. But we have to make sure we play for 40 minutes. Play hard mentally and physically and hopefully things work out.”
Across the past two games the decrease in turnovers and fouls have been noticeable for the Lady Demons who averaged 26.0 fouls and 20.7 turnovers per game prior to the past week. In the past two games those numbers drop to 16.5 turnovers and nearly 10 fewer fouls at 16.5 per game.
The Lady Demons hope this is not the final trip to Texas this season. Although the road is tough, the progression and effort across the next couple weeks will determine whether a date in Katy in early March is on the table for NSU this year.