THIBODAUX – The turnover bug bit Northwestern State for the third consecutive game as Nicholls pulled away in the fourth to take a 68-38 decision on Wednesday night.
The Lady Demons (0-8, 0-3 SLC) turned the ball over 31 time on the night leading to 30 Colonel points. A strong first quarter, despite the seven turnovers, saw NSU with the lead. A dip in execution and the inability to take advantage of key Colonel foul trouble in the second created enough of an advantage for the home team.
“This was the first time that I think we’ve really come out and played in the first quarter since the ULM game,” said first-year head coach Anna Nimz. “I know what the score reads but I thought they had a very good first quarter.
“They did a good job and played through one another. They executed offensively but we still had the woes of the turnovers. We’re forcing things at times. We had 16 turnovers in the first half and that’s my goal for the entire game. That’s where we need to be to really be competitive.”
Through the first 20 minutes of the game the offensive production on both sides of the floor was less than desirable. The combination of a multitude of turnovers for NSU and plenty of missed shots for Nicholls led to a low scoring affair.
Osha Cummings puts the Lady Demons on top first with a layup a minute into the game. Nicholls tied the game, and then took the lead, with five straight free throws from leading scorer Chelsea Cain. Those would be the points in the first half for the standout forward as two early fouls sent her to the bench after just six minutes of play.
The Lady Demons took advantage of her absence early, taking the lead back on a Tristen Washington layup with 2:18 left in the first. The lead changed hands four more times before the end of the quarter with a pair of Kalen Green free throws giving NSU the 13-12 at the end of the quarter.
A game-high nine turnovers and a game-low 2-for-15 shooting effort in the second however allowed Nicholls to build their first double-digit lead of the night. With Cain still on the bench for the entire second quarter, a prime opportunity slipped through the fingers of the Lady Demons.
Missing their top scorer, Nicholls only managed 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting, but it was enough to push the lead they gained early in the quarter to 11 before an Andreea Cojocariu jumper made it a 26-17 game at half.
The third quarter success the Lady Demons have had in recent games showed up again on Wednesday. Two quick buckets from Cummings and Julia Sion made it a two-possession game 90 seconds into the half.
“We played pretty hard in spurts,” Nimz said. “We saw the defensive effort be better at least in the top part of it. We still let a lot of kids to creep in on the backside though. Overall, defensively we did some nice things, but we turned the ball over 31 times. Hats off to Nicholls in the second half with their sagging press that gave us some issues.”
Back-to-back scores a minute later pushed the Nicholls lead to 10 on a Cain layup with 7:13 to go. With her back on the floor the Nicholls offense took on an entirely different and more efficient look. She scored 13 points in the quarter to keep what was another good start to the second half for NSU from becoming too much of a factor.
Cojocariu, who scored a season-high eight points, cut it to 35-28 on a pair of free throws with 3:45 left in the quarter, the closest NSU would get the rest of the way. The ensuing 12-0 run and another 16-0 run midway through the fourth put the game out of reach.
“It feels different,” Nimz said. “I see the score, it’s in my mind, it’s in my heart. I’m terribly frustrated with a lot of lack of effort plays, the turnovers, a lot of the kids just not quite showing up, but we got better. We’ve only been a third quarter team and this time we were a first and third quarter team.”
The Lady Demons play the final of their season-long five-game road trip on Monday afternoon at UIW.