Northwestern State played well and finished strong in a senior-day win Saturday against McNeese. The Lady Demons are looking for the same sort of performance on the road at Nicholls on Wednesday night.
“It’s going to be hard,” interim head coach Aaron Swinson said. “We have to prepare ourselves like we’re already down 10 or 15 points. Nicholls is going to be very excited and enthused because they’re trying to win as many games as they can to fight for that eighth spot in the tournament. It’s going to be a dog fight.”
The Lady Demons (7-17, 4-11 SLC) have been looking for consistency all season. Following a solid performance and win on Saturday, the chance to keep the positive play going at Nicholls (8-16, 5-10 SLC) is at their fingertips.
Fans can hear the game live on 92.3 FM The Fox with play-by-play from Tony Taglavore. Live streaming audio is also available at www.nsudemons.com or via the NSU Athletics mobile app, which is available for download from the Apple Store or Google Play.
“I told them at the beginning of the fourth quarter to just take a deep breath,” Swinson said. “We’ve got 10 more minutes and we’re going to be able to take care of this game. We have to take one possession at a time, and we did a great job of doing that.”
That message rang loudly in the ears of the seniors who were playing the final Saturday home game of their careers. With 18 of the 23 points in the final period coming from the class of 2020, the Lady Demons found the way to win the game.
Victoria Miller, who turned in her third career double-double in the win, was an important piece of the game plan against McNeese and will be again at Nicholls. With another quality post player in Chrystal Ezechukwu a focal point of the Colonel attack, Miller and the other inside players will look to build on the same game plan Wednesday.
“It’s kind of the same mentality we had going into McNeese,” Miller said. “Be aggressive, attack her and try to get her in foul trouble, which is always great to get them on the bench early, and then just crash hard.
“When you do that it wears them down and I think that’s one thing that us posts have really tried to do is crash the boards more offensively and we’re doing good with that.”
“Our game plan was to attack inside out, and it worked,” Swinson added. “In the past we didn’t really have inside presence and we’ve been working on it all year to get someone to have some post presence. We’re starting to get some balance but at the same time we’ve got to be consistent.”
Junior Lacee Savage has been the model of that consistency of late. She is averaging 7.7 rebounds across the past six games, including her season-best 10 against New Orleans. Of her 128 rebounds this season, 64 have come on the offensive glass and 64 on the defensive.
Another post presence, Leilani Moncrease, had one of her best games of the season in the 58-54 defeat of Nicholls in mid-January. She flirted with a double-double of her own with eight rebounds and a career-high 18 points. A huge part of the season-best 50 rebounds the Lady Demons gathered in the game.
Even with the importance of the play around the basket being at its highest level, Swinson said the biggest key for the Lady Demons comes down to how that plays off the transition from one end to the other.
“Transition defense and boxing out are going to be huge for us,” Swinson said. “They’ve got a post player that’s a beast inside, so we have to make sure and maintain her. Their guards can get downhill and shot the 3-point shot. We have to make sure that we close out well, box out and hopefully we can overcome those things.”