Lady Demons fall short at HBU

HOUSTON – Northwestern State was able to check one of their boxes on Thursday evening, but a long scoreless drought and uptick of turnovers cost them the game in a 66-51 game at HBU.

The Lady Demons (9-8, 2-4) with a renewed focus on the rebounding battle after a stretch of tough outcomes, outdueled the Huskies (9-8, 5-1) on the glass 32-23. However, a more than 10-minute scoreless stretch in the middle of the game combined with 22 turnovers on the night gave NSU its first loss this season when winning the rebound war.

“There were a handful of times where we took good shots they just didn’t go in,” head coach Anna Nimz said about the game-defining stretch at the end of the second quarter and into the third. “We’ve been really talking about rebounding and we won that battle today but they (HBU) shot lights out. We played zone, they shot it, we played man they shot it. They did a nice job.”

The Huskies had the early edge in rebounding battle, especially in terms of the second-chance points they created. HBU scored six second-chance points in the first quarter that allowed it to stay with NSU who found an offensive groove at the end of the frame.

The Lady Demons hit three of their final four shots of the quarter and combined with some lengthy defensive possessions and stops could have enjoyed an even bigger lead than 15-14 at the quarter’s end.

The late scoring burst carried over into the first five minutes of the second quarter.

JaMiya Braxton started the second with a 3-pointer from the corner which was followed by another shot clock violation stop by the Demon defense. Monette Bolden dumped in a jumper from the elbow on the next trip and NSU was off to a 9-2 run through the first four-plus minutes of the quarter and held a 26-18 lead.

Jordan Todd scored with 5:21 left in the half on a perfect pass from Braxton who drove around the right elbow, as the final points of the half and in more than 10 minutes of game time for the Lady Demons.

HBU finished the half on a 12-0 run as shot after shot missed the mark and the turnovers began to pile up. The Huskies’ run grew into the second half and they were able to turn an eight-point deficit into a 15-point lead by the time Bolden dropped in a jumper at the 5:44 mark of the third quarter.

Although Bolden’s jumper broke the long drought, it came in the middle of back-to-back 3s from the Huskies who shot 40 percent from beyond the arc for the game. In the 26-2 run, HBU was the hottest they were all night going 9-for-15 from the field during the stretch.

Like they did in the first, the Lady Demons found another bump at the end of the third quarter, finishing three of their final four shots of the period, including back-to-back jumpers from either side of the elbow from Bolden that made it a 54-37 game heading into the fourth.

Jiselle Woodson’s step-back 3-pointer on the second possession was the boost for the 8-2 start to the final period that drew the game back down to 11. Again with a chance to bring the deficit back into single digits, a foul on the rebound gave HBU two more points from the free throw line and an HBU steal on the next NSU possession and resulting layup quickly turned it back into a 15-point margin.

NSU outscored HBU 14-12 in the final period, behind the 8-2 start, but the game-high nine turnovers in the period prevented a bigger run, finishing with their second straight 20-plus turnover game, just the fourth this season.

“We had 22 turnovers and I would say not a whole lot of them were forced,” Nimz said. “Just us slinging the ball around and not being focused in on what we’re doing. I’ve got to keep reminding myself that it’s a process as we keep moving forward.

“Our girls are going to bounce back. They didn’t die, they didn’t give up. When you’re trying to turn something around and get something going everybody wants to win but you have to celebrate the small victories. We’ve been talking about rebounds forever and we got that one, so that’s the one I’m going to take from tonight.”