Career-high performances from Anessa Dussette and Tristen Washington were not enough for Northwestern State on Sunday afternoon, falling 73-58 to Mississippi Valley State.
The sophomore duo combined for 38 points for the Lady Demons (0-4) but a five-minute scoreless start to the fourth allowed the Devilettes (2-2) to pull away for their second straight road win.
“We’ve had a lot of opportunities so far this season to not only be in the game but pull ahead and take the game,” first-year head coach Anna Nimz said. “We have to continue to buy into that effort.
“We’re going to make mistakes and that’s ok, but it’s about finding that consistent effort. I told them in the locker room, ‘I believe in you, I love you and if you guys will really allow yourselves to push forward with energy and effort, you’ll be shocked with what you can do.”
After just one day between games, the Lady Demons showed no sign of tired legs jumping out to an 8-2 lead in the first two minutes of the game forcing an early Valley timeout. The break worked like a charm for the Devilettes who enjoyed a 10-0 run before Washington’s 3-pointer with 3:23 left made it a one-point game.
The Lady Demons scored on their final two possessions of the quarter, taking a short lead with a minute to go on a jumper from Julia Sion. Valley’s 3-pointer put them back on top 18 seconds later but Dussette’s runner at the end of the quarter knotted the score at 15.
The first nine minutes of the second quarter were not kind to NSU. Valley jumped ahead with an 11-1 run and the Lady Demons didn’t get their first field goal of the quarter until an Erin Harris layup near the midway point.
The next 11 minutes of game time however would be some of the best for NSU on the young season.
The Lady Demons scored on three straight possessions to end the first half, two layups from Washington and another from Dussette. Although Valley answered with points of their own to make it a 37-26 game at the break, NSU had momentum going into halftime.
Four quick points from Dussette right out of the break sparked an 8-2 run and her 3-ball at the 6:13 mark of the quarter made it a two-possession game at 41-37. Valley converted on their next four trips down the floor, keeping the Lady Demons at arm’s length and eventually pushing the lead back to nine with 3:20 left.
NSU finished with a flurry scoring 10 points in the final two minutes. Osha Cumming’s 3-ball with 12 seconds on the clock pulled the Lady Demons within a point at 52-51 but an offensive rebound and put back at the buzzer gave Valley the 54-51 lead entering the final quarter.
The Lady Demons went 8-for-13 from the field in the quarter and 11-for-16 over the 11-minute period, paced by Dussette’s 12 points in the third quarter alone.
“We challenged A.D. at halftime,” Nimz said. “She wasn’t quite there in the first half and part of maturity is being able to show up right from the beginning and put two halves together. We challenged her at the half, and she responded, and that’s growth.”
The NSU momentum would end with the final buzzer of the third. Two quick fouls by Dussette put the hot hand on the bench with four fouls and Valley took advantage scoring the first nine points of the quarter to push the lead back to double digits.
After a quick burst of energy near the midway point of the quarter with two jumpers and a blocked shot to break the scoreless start, Valley put together another run, this time 8-2, over a three-minute span to pull away.
NSU went 3-for-10 from the field in the final 10 minutes with five turnovers.
The Lady Demons travel to #10 Texas A&M on Dec. 28 for their final non-conference game of the season.
Photo Credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services