Northwestern State gave itself a prime chance to come away with the first win of the season, thanks largely to the defense. For the second straight game however, the NSU offense wasn’t up to the task seeing a late single-digit deficit end in a 56-47 loss to UIW on Wednesday night.
“Any time you can hold a team to 56 points, that’s excellent,” first-year head coach Anna Nimz said. “The girls were able to flip in and out of defenses and we had a couple kids that were able to get up and apply some pressure. But it’s the same story where we couldn’t score to back it up.”
The Lady Demons (0-14, 0-9) trailed by six with 90 seconds left after Julia Sion ran the floor following a steal for an easy layup on a dish from Erin Harris. A Cardinal (4-4, 2-1) miss on the next possession and a Harris rebound gave NSU the chance to cut into the lead even more, but an immediate turnover and dagger from UIW’s Jaaucklyn Moore pushed the lead back to eight with 30 seconds left, ultimately leading to the nine-point loss.
NSU led early in the first as both team’s frantic pace on both ends of the floor left plenty of missed shots bouncing out of the rim. Sion dumped in the first of her game and career-high 15 on a layup three minutes into the game that made it a 3-0 affair.
It took UIW the next six minutes to score the seven points of the game and carry the 7-3 lead into the second quarter.
After having her eligibility confirmed hours before tipoff, transfer JaMiya Braxton scored her first points for NSU early in the second with another Sion layup tying the game at seven just over a minute into the quarter.
UIW used an 11-2 run to push the lead to its largest of the half at 18-9, but the Lady Demons finished with the final four points, that could have been six if not for two of the 10 total missed free throws in the game, to make it a low scoring, but close 18-13 game at the break.
“They’re called free for a reason and we’ve got to hit those,” Nimz said. “You can win or lose games from the free throw line. I don’t think they stepped up to the line with the intention of missing, but we’ve got to step up with more focus. It was a nine-point game and we missed 10.”
After a bevy of fouls on both sides to start the third, NSU cut into a 12-point lead with a pair of freebies from Anessa Dussette and a quick 3-ball form Tristen Washington. An immediate answer from the Cardinals and a 5-2 finish to the quarter pushed the lead back to 11 going to the fourth at 38-27.
The Lady Demons found their offensive footing in the fourth quarter, primarily around the basket with Sion. The sophomore scored six of her 15 in the final period, benefiting from easy looks at the basket thanks to crisp passes from her teammates.
“She did well tonight,” NImz said. “She was able to pull down some really nice transition passes from the guards and finish at the rim. She had her girl pulled out deep and ripped and drove and finished there too. I thought she really showed some growth tonight and I hope that carries over to Saturday.”
The Lady Demons shot a game-high 57 percent in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough to overcome the 11-for-21 effort from the free throw line.
“If they come with the same energy and put forth the same effort against McNeese and we have a little more success on the offensive end, just taking care of the ball not even shooting better and not giving up points, they can go get a win,” Nimz said. “I really want that for our seniors, for our program, but just for the girls. They’ve got to have it and feel it in their heart so I want them to get one.”