Lady Demons add trio of international players

The reach of Northwestern State women’s basketball expanded even farther this week with three international signees joining the team prior to the 2022-23 season.

Head coach Anna Nimz announced the addition of Division I transfers Bengisu Alper (Colorado State) and Gabby Forde (North Dakota State) and true freshman Ivona Miljanic on Friday.

Alper hails from Istanbul, Turkey, and spent the past two seasons at Colorado State after beginning her collegiate career at Maine. She has appeared in nearly 50 games in her three playing seasons and helped the Black Bears to a 25-8 record, American East Championships and No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament during the 2018-19 season.

Before beginning her collegiate career in the States, Alper had a wildly successful junior and international career competing for the Turkish national team in 35 official and 63 private games.

She was the scoring leader (14.3 ppg) for the U16 National Championship Fenerbahce and named the Regional Basketball League Playoff MVP in 2016-17, a year after being named the top defensive player in the 2015-16 tournament.

Alper was also a two-year member of the Women’s European Championship Turkish National Team.

“Bengisu is a dynamic player that will be able to play multiple positions within our offense,” Nimz said. “Her length, speed and headiness will allow her to come in and be an immediate impact.”

A slightly shorter distance between her hometown and Natchitoces than Alper, Forde comes to NSU from Ontario, Canada by way of North Dakota State.

The 6-foot-3 guard spent this past season with the Bison but did not see any game action. During her prep career at Turner Fenton Secondary School, she averaged 10.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game.

“Gabby is incredibly long and athletic with the ability to play off the bounce from the perimeter,” Nimz said. “We believe she will be a very effective defensive presence both on the perimeter and in the paint.”

Forde was also named a Jule All-Star and helped her team to an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association (OFSAA) championship in 2018.

Miljanic joins the Lady Demons from the Eastern European country of Serbia as a true freshman.

She competes in the premier Serbian women’s basketball league for Art Basket out of her hometown of Belgrade where she is a neat 40 percent shooter from the field averaging 4.7 points, 1.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals per game.

During the summer of 2022 she will play for the U20 Serbian National Team in the FIBA European Championships held in Hungary.

“Ivona is a highly skilled basketball player,” Nimz said. “We are excited to add her basketball I.Q. and fundamental skillset to the program. Her abilities compliments our program and allows her to come in and make strides as a young player.”

Alper and Miljanic will be the first players from their respective countries to play for the Lady Demons.

“We are incredibly excited for additions that we have made to the program,” Nimz said. “Each player brings a unique skillset that will fit the needs of the program. More importantly, each player has a desire to succeed in the classroom and build great relationships with their teammates, coaches and community. We are so happy they chose the join our family.”