NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Slow starts often have plagued the Northwestern State women’s basketball team in the 2018-19 season.
The Lady Demons started all four quarters of Saturday’s Southland Conference matchup with Stephen F. Austin strong, but the Ladyjacks had the answer for each early NSU surge, often doing so from beyond the 3-point line.
Stephen F. Austin used dead-eye shooting from beyond the arc to cruise to an 84-56 victory against the Lady Demons, NSU’s seventh straight loss at William R. Johnson Coliseum. The Ladyjacks sank 16 of 28 3-pointers, outscoring Northwestern State by 30 points from beyond the arc.
“We’ve got a lot of things we need to get corrected,” third-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “We gave up too many easy baskets. We’ve got to get tougher. We’re a good team when things are going our way, but things don’t always go your way during a game or through the course of the season. We’re going to have to learn to fight through some things.”
Northwestern State (6-9, 1-3) started the game by scoring the first five points and took a 7-3 lead on RaVon Nero’s jumper with 8:14 to play in the quarter. Nero tallied the Lady Demons’ first seven points in the first 106 seconds of the game.
From there, the Ladyjacks (12-3, 3-0) began their game-long barrage from the 3-point line. Chanell Hayes hit long-range buckets on back-to-back possessions and had three of her five 3-pointers in the opening 10 minutes as the Ladyjacks recovered from the early deficit to build a 10-point advantage.
A similar scenario played out in the second quarter as Nero (18 points) and Gabby Bell (13 points) combined for the first five points of the quarter to slice the lead to five. From there, Stephen F. Austin went on an 11-1 run across the next 4:13 and eventually built a 15-point halftime lead.
For the third straight quarter, the Lady Demons opened aggressively on offense, starting the second half on an 8-1 run sparked by six points from Nero and a layup from Nautica Grant.
Stephen F. Austin called a timeout after Nero’s bucket cut the lead to 43-35 with 7:01 to play in the third quarter. That decision awakened the Ladyjacks, who scored 15 of the next 16 points.
Marissa Banfield’s hot shooting sparked the third-quarter barrage as the sophomore guard sank four of her five 3-pointers in the quarter.
“There was a reason I didn’t call a timeout in the first half,” Dupuy said. “I wanted us to fight through some things. We cut it to eight (in the third quarter), and they called a timeout. Next thing you know, the lead was back up to 15.”
The Ladyjacks’ long-range accuracy opened up the inside for Imani Johnson (22 points) as she and Hayes (24) both cracked the 20-point mark. Banfield added 17 points for Stephen F. Austin, which remained unbeaten in nine games inside Johnson Coliseum.
After being outrebounded in 13 of its first 14 games, the Lady Demons won the battle on the boards, 32-28, thanks in large part to Lacee Savage.
Savage came off the bench to grab a career-high nine rebounds, including seven on the offensive end as NSU outrebounded an opponent for the first time since doing so against LeTourneau on Nov. 12.
“Lacee did a great job,” Dupuy said. “She had seven offensive rebounds, which was huge. We need that from her. She’s our most athletic player.”
The Lady Demons will not play for a week, returning to action Jan. 19 when they host Abilene Christian. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. inside Prather Coliseum.
Photo Credit: Hardy Meredith/Stephen F. Austin