LAWRENCE, Kan. – Northwestern State faces its final major challenge of the non-conference schedule on Tuesday with a trip to one of the pillars of college basketball, Allen Fieldhouse.
The Lady Demons (6-4) take on Kansas (9-1) in a 7 p.m. game at the historic arena, 30 minutes from where second-year head coach Anna Nimz grew up, in the final test before the schedule turns to 2022 and the first look at Southland Conference foes next week in Katy, Texas.
The game can be heard locally in Natchitoches on 95.9 FM Kix Country.
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“It’s an incredible opportunity to play in Allen Fieldhouse where the inventor of basketball, James Naismith coached,” Nimz said. “Add to that playing where the “Father of Basketball” coached for many years, Phog Allen, it’s special. Any basketball player or coach is beyond blessed to have the opportunity to compete on such a historic court.”
After 10 days off between games for the Holidays, it will also serve as a return to action for the Lady Demons as they look to continue building on what they started through the first 10 games of the season.
“Anytime you take a few days away there is bound to be rust and cobwebs,” Nimz said. “We just have to refocus and get back into the groove of it all. I feel like the girls have had a good couple days of practice coming out of the break.”
The NSU defense is coming off one of its best performances of the year, holding Tarleton State to its second-lowest point total of the year at 51 points and matching the second-lowest field goal percentage the Lady Demons have allowed this year. NSU held Louisiana Christian to a 25 percent effort from the field and Tarleton to 32.
They forced 16 first-half turnovers in the game which was two more than entire game in the wins at Arkansas State and ULM. Unfortunately, the Texan defense was equal to the task most of the night and held the Lady Demons below 40 percent from the field for the first time in three games.
“I believe we have had multiple games with the level of defensive execution we saw against Tarleton,” Nimz said. “That game though proved more than anything that we can hold great teams to low numbers.”
Defense has been a strength for the Jayhawks this season as well, coming in with the best field goal defense in the Big 12 holding opponent to 32 percent from the floor.
In their win at Wichita State, they had a team-best nine blocks, not surprisingly the majority coming from 6-foot-6 center Taiyanna Jackson who stuffs 2.2 shots per game. She will be the third 6-foot-6 post player the Lady Demons have faced this season. The previous two both recorded double-doubles and are averaging 16.5 points and 13 rebounds per game.
“The key for us is like it is for any game, take care of the ball, create those extra possessions and play smart around the rim,” Nimz said. “What I want to see more than anything is a focused effort from start to finish.”
PHOTO: Chris Reich, NSU Photographics Services