Northwestern State faces one of its toughest remaining challenges of the season on Thursday night. Fortunately, it will do so on its home floor with a loud contingency of support.
The Lady Demons (10-13, 6-7) put their five-game home winning streak to the test against the team that currently sits all alone atop the Southland Conference standings, having won four straight games and seven of eight, Southeastern.
Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.
NSU has the second-best home record in the conference at 9-2 this season and have not lost a home game since the 2023 portion of the schedule. The streak of five straight home wins matches the longest in season since 2016-17.
“The girls are definitely finding comfort being at home,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “The band, cheerleaders, fans everybody is bringing the energy and the girls can feel that love when we’re out there. They’ve done a good job showing up quick and playing for 40 minutes and capitalized on that opportunity.”
The Lady Demons had to erase an 11-point first-half deficit to stretch the streak to five this past Saturday against Texas A&M-Commerce. The 24 points scored by Candice Parramore in the second and third quarters alone of that game sparked the comeback and carried the offense.
In each of the past five wins, the Lady Demons have built on the energy and effort of strong starts. Commerce started the game 0-for-6 from the field and the defense held both Lamar and HCU to less than 30 percent shooting from the floor in the first quarter. They held the Huskies to just nine first-quarter points.
NSU will need to harness that kind of effort again on Thursday against a Lady Lions (15-8, 10-3) as it tries to repeat the result of the most recent matchup in Natchitoches.
In the regular season finale a season ago, SLU came into Prather needing a win to secure the top seed in the conference tournament. After 40 minutes of basketball it was NSU that knocked the Lady Lions from the potential No. 1 seed with a 56-51 win.
This year SLU comes in as the current top team in the conference and playing perhaps some of their best basketball of the season.
Southeastern had its second 50 percent shooting effort from the field in its 90-52 win against Nicholls on Saturday. The 90 points scored was the most in a conference game this season and SLU is shooting 43 percent from the field in its previous six games.
“They’re a good team, a scrappy team and incredibly good defensive team,” Nimz said. “They’re playing good and playing strong, but they haven’t played us in Prather. I’m hopeful our girls show up and play hard and play strong themselves. It’s definitely going to be a tough matchup.”
The Lions pounced on the Demons in the second quarter of the earlier meeting this season in Hammond, with a 20-8 margin and a game best 43 percent effort from the field to take a 33-21 lead into the half.
The Demons had 17 first-half turnovers in the game and limited it to just four in the second half that allowed them to pull within eight, using their defense to hold NSU to a game-low 25 percent shooting effort in the fourth quarter.
“They are an incredibly quick team, have a great mid-range game and inside presence and are just very versatile,” Nimz said. “But I think more than anything it’s their defense that stems their offense. They apply a lot of pressure and guard up well that helps create some easy buckets on the offensive end.”
Southeastern had 40 paint points in the first meeting, tied for the second most in a game against NSU during conference play this season.