Northwestern State certainly let the good times roll in a pair of road wins a week ago against Nicholls and New Orleans and are looking to bring that same South Louisiana feeling back home to Prather Coliseum this week.
“The last two games I think we’ve seen some of our best team defense and best team effort in general,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “I thought they really focused in on their defense against Nicholls and brought that same intensity and execution into the UNO game.”
The pair of game were much more prototypical to what the Lady Demons (9-5, 2-1) have been able to do thus far this season, putting the frustration of the conference opener at Southeastern far in their rear-view mirror.
NSU is the only team in the Southland Conference, men or women, with a winning record on the road and are hoping to bring that same confidence and energy into the first of two home games this week beginning on Thursday.
Tip-off against UIW (4-10, 0-3) is set for 5:30 p.m., as part of a doubleheader with the NSU men. The game can be seen at http://www.nsudemons.com with free streaming audio also available on the NSU Athletics mobile app or on 95.9 FM Kix Country the Natchitoches area.
Not much went wrong for the Lady Demons in the convincing win at New Orleans. Good ball movement and shots falling on offense along with tight defense and forced turnovers on defense. All resulting in the largest margin of victory in a conference game since 2014 and more importantly breeding more certainty amongst the players.
“We always hope that its building confidence, continuing to learn a little more about one another, continuing to trust the process and believe in what we’re trying to do,” Nimz said about the winning road trip. “We have a lot of individuals that can do a lot of great things but what’s really exciting is that everyone is getting involved and every person is really starting to fit their role. It takes time for people to settle into or accept their role and I think the last two games they’ve done a really nice job of that.”
Nimz referenced JaMiya Braxton as one that had really begun to fall into her role on the floor, especially after getting the starting nod in each of the past three games.
Braxton, one of the several players on the team known for their 3-point shooting abilities, found other ways to contribute beyond just knocking down the deep shot. She’s made two in each of the past three games from beyond the arc but also dished out four assists against Nicholls and grabbed six rebounds against New Orleans.
“They were two important wins coming off the loss at Southeastern,” she said. “We played hard to get them, we played together, had a lot of energy and energy from the bench. So that 2-0 last week was a big boost for us going into Thursday.”
The Lady Demons will do their best not to have the energy drained from them against a Cardinal team that typically likes to slow the pace, especially on the offensive end. UIW averages the second-fewest points (56.1) and field goal attempts (53.8) per game in the conference but are making the most of their opportunities converting on the third-best percentage (.368).
“They may not push the ball as much in transition as we do but we’re not going to adjust our speed to somebody else’s,” Nimz said. “It’s no different than when someone is playing quick and wants to press, press, press.
“It would be advantageous against us to maybe want to slow the game down but we’re going to play our ball and focus on what we can do to maintain that. I think our girls have the ability to get up and guard and as of late have shown they can make changes defensively mid game.”
The success of UIW starts with sophomore Jaaucklyn Moore who is second in the conference in scoring at 16.6 per game and leads the Cardinals in almost every offensive category. She is averaging 17.5 points per game in the last four.
“Each team in this conference has a couple kids that do great things for them,” Nimz said. “I think the ones that can play through their team the most are going to have the most success. When you can get multiple people touching the ball, no different than what we try to do, you get that.”
Photo: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services