MONROE – In every game this season head coach Anna Nimz has learned more and more about her team. Following an overtime road win against incredible odds, she learned just how much fight and resilience this year’s team possesses.
“They’ve proven that they can fight through adversity and fight to the end,” she said. “What they did Saturday was impressive. All of my teams in my years of coaching have been tough, always really in shape and have a willingness to fight, but this team capitalized on that a little bit more.
“I told the staff that it never felt like we were going to lose. A lot of times in games like that when the adversity is hitting, it can creep into your head that someone or something is going to take this game away from you. I had confidence in the girls the whole time, something they’ve earned this year.”
The Lady Demons (5-3) hope to carry that mettle into their fifth straight road game Wednesday as they play long-time rival ULM (4-7) at 6:30 p.m. The game can be seen with a subscription to ESPN+
The game can also be heard locally in Natchitoches on 95.9 FM Kix Country.
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Losing a starter two minutes into the game to injury, facing a relentless pressure defense that forced the most turnovers since 2007 and being called for 22 fouls the Lady Demons were able to persevere to their first overtime win since 2017.
Despite the anomalous turnover numbers, the Lady Demons made the most of their opportunities on offense with a season-best 47 percent effort from the field, the second straight game above 45 percent. That led to a second straight non-conference for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
“I think we learned how much character we have and how much togetherness we have,” senior guard Candice Parramore said. “We could have easily folded there but we didn’t. We fought through so much during the game, so I think it really shows our character more than anything.”
It was Parramore’s 23 second-half points and 10 in the five-minute overtime that were the biggest propulsion for the offense in the win, leading her to the team’s third Southland Conference Player of the Week honor in five weeks.
“We have a “have you back” mentality,” Nimz said. “That’s something we talk about in our shooting drills, if somebody is in a slump or the ball isn’t falling for them somebody else has their back, taken on that role and had big games.
“It’s fun to see different kids earning that recognition and it speaks volumes to the group that the staff recruited, their work ethic and the team chemistry. The ball is being shared and different players are having big nights. It’s not all revolving around one person, and that’s a good thing.”
After some early foul trouble for Parramore that kept her on the bench and only allowed her to play 23 total minutes, it was the pair of baskets early in the third that gave NSU the lead our ot of the half that jump started her big finish.
“When we came out of halftime, I got a couple of buckets in and was able to settle in a little bit,” she said. “I had to sit out a little bit then too after I picked up another foul, but Coach (Leasa) A(ilshie) looked at me and told me to keep that fight when you go to the fourth quarter.”
Following her second 20-point outing of the season, Parramore leads the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game, just barley ahead of Monette Bolden’s 12.1. Bolden leads the team in assists (26) and steals (17) and is second in rebounding.
NSU faces its second Sun Belt team of the season on Wednesday in ULM looking for a similar result to the 80-76 win at Arkansas State.
The young Warhawks, with 12 players in either their first or second year playing at the college level, won their previous two games coming in, but haven’t played since their 65-51 win against Champion Christian on Dec. 8.
Second-year freshman Kyren Whittington leads the offense with 11.4 points per game, the only player averaging double figures to this point, and Kierra Crockett paces the team with 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 steals per night.
“They’ve got a group of young players that when they’re off script they’re going and make things happen,” Nimz said. “You see too they’ve got a group of mature players that are running the program and running what coach wants, but they have a lot of different tools.
“It’s going to be important for them to play at our speed. We have the ability to get out and run but we have to have more poise about our transition offense than we did this last game.”
Photo: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services