Northwestern State pushes league-leader Islanders to brink in loss

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Northwestern State gave Southland Conference-leading Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as much as they could handle Saturday, but the Islanders fended off a pesky Lady Demons bunch in a 65-55 win.

The Lady Demons (10-12, 3-8 SLC) led by as many as six points after an Alecia Whyte layup started the third quarter, but the Islanders (17-7, 9-1 SLC) went on a 20-3 run buoyed by their transition offense to grab a 49-38 lead late in the period.

The Islanders scored 21 points off 17 NSU turnovers, the main factor in that game-defining run.

“Everybody was really frustrated with the overtime loss at UIW on Thursday because we did things that weren’t coached,” said NSU coach Anna Nimz. “But today, I take nothing but positives away because these girls did what we asked them, and I was happy with the bounce back even in a loss.

“We had some scoring and rebounding droughts, and turnovers were obviously an issue. But I thought today was about growth for us.”

NSU climbed back in the game with a 12-3 run to slice AMCC’s edge to as close as 52-50 around the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter.

Three-point plays from Monette Bolden and Candace Parramore supported the run as Bolden scored five of her 10 points during the stretch.

Parramore scored a team-high 12 points, including making all seven free-throw attempts. The Lady Demons made 16-18 from the line. Parramore also had six turnovers.

But the Islanders had one more surge left, going on a mini 6-1 run to re-establish distance from their opponent as NSU scored just four points in the final five minutes.

A pair of free throws from Jordan Todd, whose 11 points and 10 rebounds were her second double double in the last three games and sixth overall, cut AMCC’s advantage to 58-55 at the three-minute mark.

NSU couldn’t score after that as the Islanders stretched the gap with the final seven points.

“We still have an opportunity to do something cool come March, and we played well in stretches today,” Nimz said. “We’ve got to correct ourselves somewhat and stop beating ourselves as much as we are.

“It was nice to see length all along the bottom of our zone (defense) today for the first time, but we need players who might not be playing as many minutes as they once were to understand that and go 100 miles per hour with the minutes they are playing.”

AMCC’s Makinna Serratta (16 points) and Alecia Westbrook (15 points) were joined by Violeta Verrano (11 points) in double figures.

After hanging around in the first quarter, the Lady Demons put together a huge second quarter to build a 33-29 halftime lead.

Down 21-14 late in the first quarter, NSU went on a 12-2 run to snatch a 26-23 edge.

Three-pointers from Bolden and Whyte helped power a run that saw the Islanders score just two points over a nearly seven-minute stretch.

NSU led by as many as six thanks to three free throws from Woodson and Parramore as the Lady Demons sank 8-8 from the line compared to just 1-2 for TAMU-CC in the first half.

The ball moved well on both sides as the Islanders had assists on 10 of their 12 buckets and NSU on seven of their 10 baskets.

In her first career start, Sharna Ayres contributed four assists, including on two of NSU’s five 3-pointers. But the Lady Demons went 0-7 from deep in the second half.

NSU plays its final three regular season games at home, including against two teams in which the Lady Demons scored road victories.

NSU hosts Nicholls on Thursday and UNO on Saturday, whom the Lady Demons did beat on the road.

PHOTO: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services