KATY, Texas – Momentum, confidence and belief are the three pillars on which Northwestern State will try to replicate another deep run in the Southland Conference Tournament.
The Lady Demons (12-13, 5-9) enter as the No. 6 seed in this year’s bracket, the same spot they were in the last time they cut down the nets in 2015. Starting Thursday, NSU has designs on playing four games in four days beginning with a 1:30 p.m. game against No. 7 New Orleans.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ with free streaming audio available at http://www.nsudemons.com/watch, on the NSU Athletics mobile app or locally in Natchitoches on 95.9 FM Kix Country.
The seeding is not the only similarity between the 2015 team that won it all and this year’s squad that hope to recreate the feat. Both seasons ended with a home loss to New Orleans and a home win against Southeastern in the final three games of the year.
The order went a little different this season with the 56-51 win against Southeastern coming on the final day of the season, providing at least one of the pillars to the Lady Demons in the process.
“I think that win definitely helped our confidence,” Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year Candice Parramore said. “We all know how we played against them at their place, so when they came here it was kind of like we owed them one and we wanted to go out with a bang and we did that. I feel like that’s going to do nothing but help us this week.”
From the beginning to the end the Lady Demons played with energy and effort, something they unfortunately did not do in the loss to New Orleans the week prior. The recognition of that fact paid immediate dividends in the final win and according to Parramore will add to the still growing connections on the floor.
“It helps us have confidence and to trust each other more,” she said. “It proves that when we do come out with energy and effort how the came can go in our favor.”
Two wins in the final three games heading into the tournament should serve as an energy boost for any team. This season the Lady Demons have been guilty of not coming out of the gate like they would have liked. But with the past two games fresh on their minds, plus the knowledge of past program success, the feeling of momentum and belief that it can be done only strengthens the other pillars for success.
“I like to think we have some steam behind us, but sometimes it feels like we’ve been that heartbreak team, showing up one day and not the next,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “But I think the girls are really ready and excited though.
“We brought out the bracket from 2015 when that team went in as the six seed and made it through those four long games and cut down nets. So, it’s not that it can’t happen. I think a lot of it is just getting kids to believe that it is possible. Getting them to believe and visualize that they can do it, win this first one and make some noise.”
The arena may be different and the stakes a little higher, but the lines on the floor and the call from Nimz for her team to start with energy, passion and determination remains the same.
NSU and New Orleans split their two games this season, each winning on the other’s home floor. The Lady Demons won in a runaway performance that was the largest margin of victory in a conference game since 2014 in New Orleans, but the sluggish start in Natchitoches proved too much to overcome, one of the key talking points entering Thursday afternoon.
“First and foremost, we have to show up,” Nimz said. “You go back and watch that first half in the last game and it was very lackluster on our part. They (UNO) had several get above their averages and played a great game, especially coming off an overtime loss. They came in and earned the win, but I also think they didn’t see great Lady Demon basketball.
“We don’t have to worry about that cliché of it’s hard to beat a team three times because they got that one. But we’re going to go in trying really hard to get the one that matters the most.”
Northwestern State basketball fans can purchase digital tickets to this week’s Southland Conference Tournaments through etix.com.
Fans should use NSU’s code (NWST22) when purchasing tickets through the website/phone app so the university gets credit for the ticket sold.
The No. 6 seed women start their SLC Tournament journey Thursday with a 1:30 p.m. tipoff against No. 7 seed New Orleans at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas, the 15th and final season in which the tournament will be held in Katy.
General admission tickets are $20 for each session, which includes two games. Tickets of $10 are available for groups of 10 or more.
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