After being pushed near the limit in the first half of Saturday’s game, Northwestern State responded with a lock-down defensive second half to pick up its second win of the season.
The Lady Demons (2-0) held Texas A&M-Texarkana (0-3) to just 18 second-half points on 25 percent shooting to run away with the 71-56 win, thanks to the combined offensive efforts of Jordan Todd and Candice Parramore.
Not backing down an inch from the very start of the game, Texas A&M-Texarkana pushed the Lady Demons through most of the first half.
After taking an early lead, NSU made its first run of the game after a Karmelah Dean 3-pointer started a 10-2 stretch that made it a 15-8 game. The Lady Demons held a two to three possession lead for most of the remaining quarter until a late 6-0 run from the Eagles cut it to a two-point game.
Josie Fleischmann drilled a 3-ball in the final seconds of the quarter to push the lead to 27-22 going into the break, but the Lady Demons knew they were in for a battle after the first 10 minutes.
“I think we started out slow in the first half,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “Texarkana did a great job. We had a hard time with their guards and a hard time defending them. I think we tried to rely on getting steals instead of playing lock-down defense. It kind of got better quarter by quarter and throughout the night but Texarkana definitely came out ready to play.”
The Eagles used their size around the basket to keep the game close throughout the first half making life difficult for NSU at the rim. That trend showed itself most prominently in the second quarter.
Texarkana scored 12 of their 16 second-quarter points in the paint, with bigs Yasmine Arogunjo and Naomi Tekleab going a combined 5-for-9 from the field with 11 points. Jordan McLemore scored a late up-and-under layup to give NSU a slim 38-36 lead, only to see the game go into the half tied at 38 on a last second shot from the Eagles.
The Lady Demons started hot in the second half scoring the first seven points of the third including a pair of layups from Parramore. The advantage was short lived however as the Eagles answered with seven straight of their own.
Jiselle Woodson ended the run with a layup to put the Lady Demons back on top and they did not look back from there. Fleischman added another 3-ball and the final points the Eagles would score in the quarter came on an ensuing layup.
The NSU defense shutout Texarkana for the next four and a half minutes of the third and first three minutes of the fourth, forcing seven total turnovers, shutting down the Eagles’ post success while finding plenty of it on its own end.
Todd scored the final four points of the third and began to exert her will at the rim on the offensive end, forcing two players to foul out in route to her 10 second half points. She finished the game with her second double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
“I think our guards were a little lax on the ball which made it easier for them to get those post entry passes,” Nimz said. “But they were physical and do a good job of pinning and sealing but I think we were able to adapt. We started using our footwork instead of relying on leaning on them and it ended up being something we were able to have success with in the second half.”
The Lady Demons created plenty of breathing room late, scoring on four straight possessions that included six consecutive points from Parramore giving her a game-high 21 points on the night.
Fleichmann and JaMiya Braxton each had nine points with three 3-point conversions and Monette Bolden dished out nine assists and collected six rebounds.
“Happy to be 2-0 but have a lot of things to fix,” Nimz said. “That’s what’s great about these games. We’re going to be able to watch them, get better and right now it’s either you choose to get better or Wednesday against Grambling is going to be a tough night. But I think they’ll band together.”
Photo: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services