SAN ANTONIO – With just three games remaining in the regular season, each opportunity for Northwestern State takes on an even larger and more meaningful significance.
Head coach Anna Nimz is hopeful that her team’s ability to capitalize on those chances in the outrageous overtime win against New Orleans this past Saturday is just the beginning of a wild finish to the regular season.
“The girls showed a lot of resolve and did a really good job down the stretch, but we talked about it later on in film that we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation,” she said about the late dramatics against UNO. “That does not take away from how proud we are of them at all. Somebody was looking down on us for sure and blessed us with some opportunities. They took those opportunities, and they made something out of them.”
Even after a crucial win against the Privateers, the Lady Demons (11-14, 7-8) have not yet secured its spot in the Southland Conference Tournament that begins on March 6 in Lake Charles, La. A win on Thursday, however, would take them that much closer, and depending on results elsewhere in the league, secure the berth to the postseason.
NSU is tied for the fifth seed with the team it faces twice in the final three games of the season, UIW (12-13, 7-8), beginning with Thursday’s game in San Antonio that starts at 5:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+. Free streaming audio will also available through the NSU website at www.nsudemons.com/watch.
Both NSU and UIW are one game ahead of HCU and McNeese, who are tied for the final two spots in the tournament bracket, and two games ahead of New Orleans who is the first team out as the league enters the Thursday slate.
While everyone else may be looking at the standings and results from around the league to see what needs to happen for NSU to earn its spot in the tournament, the thing that Nimz remains focused on is getting her team to play four full quarters of basketball at the most important time of the season.
“We’re still trying to get to those 40 minutes of basketball,” she said. “A lot of games we’re playing really good for 30 or even 35, but we’ve got to get to the point in these last games where we’re playing 40 minutes of basketball. We have UIW twice and Corpus once and all three games are going to be absolute dog fights.”
The Cardinals have won three straight games and four of their last five overall, rebounding nicely from a 2-6 start to the conference schedule.
UIW hangs its hat on its defensive performance and ball security. They are holding opponents to the fourth lowest point total in league play at 60.1 points per game and lead the league with the fewest turnovers at 12.8 per game.
In the past four games, UIW has averaged just 9.7 turnovers per night.
“UIW has only gotten better throughout the course of the year,” Nimz said. “They are incredibly good defensively, play with a lot of poise and do a good job of taking care of the basketball. We’re super excited about the win over UNO and hoping it propels us into this road swing but it’s going to come down to 40 minutes, because 37 is not going to get the job done.”