WICHITA, Kan. – Stretches of hot shooting, tenacious defense and overall fight and effort defined Northwestern State’s performance on Monday night. It was a seven-minute scoreless stretch in the second quarter that proved to be the deciding factor in NSU’s 70-61 loss to Wichita State.
For the second game in a row, the Lady Demons (3-3) led after the first 10 minutes of play. Unfortunately, for the second game in a row, a second-quarter drought was costly as NSU missed its first 12 shots in the quarter that allowed Wichita State (6-1) to create just enough separation to pull out the victory.
“I thought the girls laid it all out on the line,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “We went through some droughts, but we had some kids step up at different times tonight. It’s like what we talked about after Kansas State, where we have people with so many tools that haven’t shown them quite yet and they did a phenomenal job, Jiselle (Woodson) being one of them.
“So many positives, but it’s disappointing for the kids and that’s the only disappointment. They played tremendously, followed the scout how we wanted and hats off to Wichita State, but I am just very, very proud of our team.”
NSU came out with the same intensity and drive it had two days prior at Kansas State led by Monette Bolden. After a blocked shot on her first attempt, Bolden tracked down the rebound and found Sharna Ayres under the basket for the first points of the game.
She drilled a 3-pointer two minutes later that put the Lady Demons up by two, scoring nine of NSU’s next 11 total points that gave them the 17-15 lead after the first 10 minutes of play.
“Mo came out ready to go,” Nimz said. “She was ready to take this game and win it, regardless of if she had to put the team on her back. I feel like she kind of did that there in the first quarter. She was the spark and the fight.”
The Shockers scored the first six points of the second quarter to take the lead before two Bolden free throws ended the run. Overall, it was a 13-2 run during the lengthy field goal drought for the Demons that was finally broken by Woodson.
Slicing through the defense she dropped in a jumper from the elbow and after an Erin Harris steal on the other end, climbed the ladder for a high pass and the drilled a corner 3-ball for five quick points. She scored the final seven points of the quarter for NSU to close the gap down to just five, 31-26, at the half.
Despite a sluggish start to the second half for both teams, Wichita State was able to stretch the lead to 10 three minutes into the quarter. Once again it was a spark from Bolden that lit the NSU fire.
Her 3-pointer on the next possession started a barrage from both teams who combined to make seven of the next 10 shot attempts. Three of the four from the Lady Demons during the stretch came from Bolden and Woodson behind the arc with Karmelah Dean’s old-fashioned three-point play capping the run and bringing NSU within a pair at 41-39.
Dean answered a Shocker layup with a 3-ball of her own to cut it to a one-point game with 3:03 left in the third. The Shockers withstood to NSU scoring outburst and thanks to a pair of distance shots of their own were able to stretch the lead back to seven as NSU had a stretch of three turnover in the span of a minute and went scoreless over the final two minutes of the quarter.
WSU pushed the lead back to 10 early in the fourth and to as much as 13 on a couple of different occasions by the midway point of the quarter. A Jordan Todd layup with 1:55 remaining made it a 64-54 game, and thanks to some early missed free throws from the Shockers, left the door slightly open for a potential comeback.
Dean and Woodson both converted clutch shots in the final minute, but when the free throws mattered most for WSU, they fell allowing the home team to escape with the win.
Woodson led all scorers with 23 points on the night going 5-for-5 from distance and 8-for-10 from the field. Bolden played the full 40 minutes and had 17 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Dean had 12 to match a career high.
“They’re disciplined, ready to win and ready to be coached,” Nimz said of her team after the hard-fought game. “It’s my job to put them in better situations at the end of the game, but it’s exciting. If we continue to have the kind of buy-in we’ve had, especially just game to game, I think we have a very strong team that has a lot of potential. We’re going to take out lumps but as long as we continue to grow it’s going to be pretty awesome.”
Photo: Shocker Athletics
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