Lady Demons fall in defensive battle with Tarleton

The Northwestern State defense played one of its most high-octane games of the season but faltered in a short window that led to a deflating 51-47 loss to Tarleton State on Saturday afternoon.

With the teams a combined 0-for-19 from beyond the arc, Tarleton’s Iyana Dorsey made the first triple of the game with 29 seconds left in the third. The Texans made their first two shots of the fourth quarter, a pair of 3s from Jenna Dick, that completed a 9-2 stretch from which the Lady Demons were unable to recover.

“You hold a team to 51 and force 22 turnovers you generally come away with that game,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “We had a blip and gave up on three straight possessions and they made three 3s in that segment, took the lead that we weren’t able to turn back around. It was a real gut punch to work that hard and after working so hard all game to not come away with the win.”

The Lady Demons (6-4) set the tone early in the game forcing nine first-quarter turnovers and holding the Texans (7-3) to nine total points on 3-of-15 shooting through the first 10 minutes of the game.

A 7-0 run on the heels of two Karmelah Dean buckets and a Candice Parramore jumper gave the Lady Demons a 9-2 lead midway through the quarter. While the NSU defense was locking down Tarleton’s offense, the Texan defense was also giving fits to the Lady Demons.

NSU failed to make a field goal in the final 5:14 of the quarter following Parramore’s jumper, only scoring its four points from the free throw line to take a 13-9 lead into the second.

Tarleton had a similar end to the second quarter going 0-for-9 from the field across the final three minutes of the half after tying the game at 19. The Lady Demons scored the final four points of the half on back-to-back possessions with Jiselle Woodson finding a jumper just outside the paint and Jasmin Dixon taking the pass from Erin Harris for the finish at the rim.

Woodson drew an offensive foul on the next possession to give NSU the ball back with 10 seconds remaining but her shot at the buzzer jumped off the rim and out keeping the scored at 23-19 at the break.

The NSU pressure defense forced 16 first-half turnovers, six coming in the final five minutes of the second quarter, but only managed to score eight points from those opportunities.

The teams traded baskets to start the third quarter with Monette Bolden extending the lead to six two minutes into the period with a jumper. Tarleton scored on three straight possessions a minute later to tie the game against at 27, but Bolden put NSU back ahead with a pull-up shot to slow the momentum.

She threaded a pass to Dixon late in the quarter that made it a 37-33 NSU lead, the final basket of the quarter for the Lady Demons who finished the final 2:11 with three missed shots leading to the first of Tarleton’s three consecutive 3-pointers.

The Texas took the 42-39 lead with 8:06 left in the game and after falling behind by one more following a free throw went 0-for-5 from the floor with three misses from deep over the next five minutes of the game.

The Lady Demons had shot better than 50 percent from range in two of the past three games but failed to make an outside shot on 13 attempts in the game.

“We’ve made 27 in the past three games so to go from that to zero is tough,” Nimz said. “We’ve been a little reliant on the 3-ball because it’s been going in. They’ve been good shots, and I think we took a lot of good ones today, but they just didn’t fall.”

Despite the field goal drought, the defense stood strong and held Tarleton scoreless during that same stretch of play and saw its lead decrease thanks to a pair of free throws from Dixon. A quick 6-2 stretch however gave them a 49-43 lead with just over a minute remaining in the game.

Bolden knocked down a 10-foot jumper at the minute mark then following a steal on the defensive end by Dean, a fortunate bounce off the defender’s hands from Parramore made its way through the net to make it a two-point game with 39 seconds left.

The Texans shot a pair of balls from beyond the arc on their next possession, missing both, but after a Bolden rebound with six seconds left, she was called for a controversial travel that gave Tarleton the ball back to seal from the free throw line.

Bolden finished the game with 18 points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists. She was the only player to reach double figures for the Lady Demons in the game.

“We lost and it’s tough, but there were a lot of positives tonight,” Nimz said. “They’re going to go home and refresh, spend some time with their families, have some fun and take a little break.

“We talked about making sure to stay in playing condition because that’s where the toughness, speed and quickness that we have comes from. You can only be those things if you’re in shape. They do that and we can come back and take care of what’s most important and that’s conference.”

Photo:  Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services