With the first half of the conference schedule in the rear-view mirror, Northwestern State is hoping to flip the script as it plays five of the final seven games of the season in Prather Coliseum.
The final push for tournament seeding begins on Thursday as the Lady Demons (9-9, 2-5) play, for the second time in seven days, Houston Baptist (9-9, 5-2) starting at 5:30 p.m., part of another Demon doubleheader with the NSU men.
Thursday’s game can be heard locally on 95.9 FM Kix Country or LISTEN LIVE.
The game will also be a part of the national Equality & Inclusion Night campaign started by the Rising Coaches DEI Alliance, a non-profit made up of a dozen different social justice and minority coaching organizations. The NSU coaching staff and players will wear all black to represent unity and the staff will wear an equal sign pin to symbolize equality.
NSU enters the second matchup with HBU on a four-game losing skid after a pair of losses on the road, a place that had been kind to the team earlier in the season. The task now becomes putting aside previous struggles and putting together four full quarters of basketball on their home floor.
“For a while there we were really excited because we were playing well on the road and not as well in Prather, but it’s time to let that go and have a no excuse mentality,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “They’re playing three really good quarters of basketball; we’re just missing one right now.
“Sometimes that work doesn’t show in the win-loss column the way you would like but that’s three really good quarters and we’re still working toward a common goal at the end of the season. As long as we keep getting better and those 10 minutes keep shrinking, we have enough games left that we’re going to be playing 40 minutes of ball by the time we get to March.”
In four of the five conference losses this season, one quarter or one 10-minute period have been the downfall of the night. The second quarter against Southeastern, the fourth against UIW, the first against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and a stretch at the end of the first half and start of the second against HBU have all forced NSU’s back against the wall.
There weren’t any such continuous periods in the loss to McNeese thanks in part to the play around the basket from Jordan Todd and Jasmin Dixon.
“She’s become a focal point for where the ball needs to go,” Nimz said about the recent surge from Todd. “Right now, with her and Jasmin as well for that matter who are continually getting better every single game is just tremendous. We need to get the ball in their hands.
“They’re very selfless players and are looking to create not just for themselves but for others and they’re really starting to see how good that could be. They’ve been doing a great job and now I think they’re starting to see that the ceiling is a lot higher than what they once thought.”
Todd scored 13 in the game and grabbed seven rebounds. It was her second double-figure scoring game in the past three since her stretch of four straight double-doubles to start the season. She averaged 10.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in the two games last week.
With games against both opponents this week still fresh in their minds, and a return to basics in practice, the Lady Demons hope the quick rematch plays in their favor as they look to snap the season’s longest losing skid.
“It’s good for us because we’re not going to have to spend as much time on personnel, but on what worked and what didn’t,” Nimz said. “It’s more so about correcting our game than anything. Obviously, we’re going to scout and check the numbers and all that, but we need to make the corrections that we saw.”
Photo: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services