WACO, Texas – Northwestern State is no stranger to playing one of the best teams in the country each year.
For the seventh straight season the Lady Demons (0-2) play a ranked opponent in their non-conference schedule, extending their streak on Friday at No. 7 Baylor (5-1), the first of two ranked opponents NSU sees this year.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Ferrell Center on ESPN+ and the game can be heard on 92.3 FM The Fox with live streaming audio available on http://www.nsudemons.com
“We have nothing to lose,” first-year head coach Anna Nimz said. “How fun it is to play one of the best teams in the nation. We want our girls to approach the game without any fear or hesitancy.
“But how cool to say I’m going to go get a bucket on the best player in the nation. It should only be a positive.”
The game with Baylor was originally scheduled for the opening weekend of the season. The postponement came after COVID-19 concerns for the Lady Demons on Nov. 25 while at Ole Miss. NSU and Baylor administrations were able to secure Dec. 18 as a common open date, even with multiple games already on the schedule for the Lady Bears that week.
“The way that Coach Mulkey and Coach Johnny (Derrick) worked with us, they know how important it is for us,” Nimz said. “They’re playing a lot of game this week and they were still able to fit us in. We’re fortunate to be surrounded by such great people in the business and we’re excited to play.”
Friday’s game will be the second of three against Louisiana-based schools within a four day stretch for Baylor. NSU serves as the middle contest with Southern and McNeese on either end.
Following Tuesday’s loss at UTSA the priority for the Lady Demons on Friday, according to Nimz, is improving their execution, timing and spacing.
“We didn’t execute offensively but we had some kids do some positive things and had some possessions with positive results,”Nimz said following the game at UTSA. “I would say we didn’t execute about 90 percent of what we worked on – but we will and we’re going to continue to get better.”
Baylor enters the game fresh off an 86-52 win against Southern on Wednesday afternoon. They already have a pair of conference wins under their belt with their lone loss coming at No. 16 Arkansas during the first week of December.
Looking for their 60th straight win in both home games and non-conference home games, the Lady Bears are led by junior forward NaLyssa Smith.
The Converse, Texas native leads the team in scoring (15.7), rebounding (9.2) and blocked shots (1.5) per game through the first six games. She ranks in the top 10 in each category in the Big 12.
With two others averaging double-digit scoring and three more putting in over seven points a game, it’s no wonder senior point guard DiDi Richards leads the conference and ranks 28th in the country with 5.8 assists per game.
“I want our players to have fun and compete,” Nimz said. “It’s really such a great opportunity to play some of the best players in the nation. To have a chance to compete at this level is something they will never forget. It they compete hard, bring the energy and play with discipline and poise – I’ll be so proud of them.”
Photo Credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services