When things click for Northwestern State, the results are fun to watch.
In one of the most complete performances of the season, the Lady Demons (4-4) shot better than 50 percent from the field and from beyond the 3-point line, spread the ball to the tune of 16 assists and won the rebounding war. Each element led to the convincing 79-52 win over in-state rival ULM on Saturday afternoon.
“We have a lot of fire power, we just haven’t seen it all going at the same time or all that much,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “Today you saw what kind of fire power we have. We had people step up and make great plays. One through five, one through 16 everybody did their job today and it was a tremendous job at that.”
NSU got off to its best start of the season, setting the tone for the first half and the game as a whole.
Points on seven of their first 10 possessions of the game allowed the Lady Demons to jump out to a quick double-digit lead, 16-6, through the first five minutes of the game. NSU shot 67 percent (8-for-12) in the first quarter to take the commanding 23-12 lead into the second.
An 8-0 run early in the second extended the lead even further and also served as the primary story of the game for the Lady Demons.
Sharna Ayres dopped in a 3-pointer on a dish from Alecia Whyte to start the run. Whyte then fought for the rebound after a missed free throw on the next trip and finished with an easy layup on a feed from Shelby Rayner.
Whyte added another bucket after another offensive rebound on the next trip as part of her 15-point, 15-rebound, both NSU best totals, double-double in the game. She finished the half with 13 points and eight rebounds as one of the main pieces behind NSU’s blazing start to the game.
“Our first practice back from the off day was tremendous,” Whyte said. “We had all the energy just playing together. We started to click in practice throughout the whole week and that led right into the game, especially the first five minutes.”
NSU shot a season-best 61 percent from the field in the first half with a season-high 45 points to take the 45-25 lead into the break.
“The shooters believed in themselves,” Nimz said. “They shot it, shot with confidence, played through each other and made me look good because they made plays by just playing basketball within the context of the offense. They made reads, cuts, passes to each other and really made the day easy for me.”
The Lady Demons showed no signs of slowing down in the second half, with a 50 percent effort from the field in the third quarter as they continued to score the basketball.
Whyte secured her second career double-double with five rebounds in the third quarter, adding three assists in the period as well. She finished two helpers shy of a triple-double, picking up two more in the fourth on a pair of 3-pointers from Ayres and Candice Parramore.
“I just love my teammates,” Whyte said. “If they knock the shots down it’s a lot of fun. I love sharing the ball. I’m not the person that is always the one to go and score I like to look for them and share the ball the best I can.”
It is the second straight game where an NSU player has come within four assists or fewer of the first triple-double since Joskeen Garner did it in the 1995-96 season.
Ayres finished the game with a career-high 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and a 5-for-7 showing beyond the arc. Joelle Johnson had her second straight double-digit game with 12 points in her first NSU start.
“I was happy to see them smile,” Nimz said. “Happy to see them enjoying themselves and celebrating each other. I wish I could have gotten a few more chest bumps, that’s not my job, but that’s how I felt on the inside.”
Photo Credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services