NATCHITOCHES -- When the Northwestern State women’s basketball team takes the floor Wednesday night against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, it will find itself facing an opponent with whom it shares an unpleasant situation.
Both the Lady Demons (5-8) and the Islanders (7-6) have dropped their first two Southland Conference games, assuring the 6:30 p.m. tipoff inside Prather Coliseum will go down as one team’s first conference victory of the season.
“Hopefully, both teams will come in and compete,” second-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “We know they will. There is nothing more important for us than guarding our home court in conference play.”
Doing so against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will require Northwestern State to control tempo and to make a more conscious effort to rebound.
In two games without starting post Cheyenne Brown, who is out indefinitely, the Lady Demons have been outrebounded by an average of 11.5 rebounds per game.
The Islanders, meanwhile, average 7.5 rebounds per game more than their opponents.
“We know we’re going to face some athletic posts,” Dupuy said. “We’ve talked to our players about that. (Without Brown), it’s that next man up mentality. It won’t be just one player who has to step up. We’ve talked to them about what they need to do on and off the court.”
Offensively, junior guard Nautica Grant filled that role in Saturday’s loss against McNeese, sinking a career-best five 3-pointers en route to setting a career high with 27 points. In two conference games, Grant has averaged 20 points per game, second-best in the league, while hitting 42.1 percent of her 3-point tries.
As a team, Northwestern State has found its long-range aim since Southland play began, connecting on 19 3s in its first two conference games, the second-highest total in the league.
Further defining the difference between the Lady Demons and Islanders, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has hit just three 3-pointers in its first two conference games.
The Islanders prefer to play at a slower tempo than the Lady Demons, something Northwestern State will have to change if it hopes to snap a two-game losing streak in the conference, which included a 57-46 loss in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament in March.
“(Controlling tempo) is going to be important the rest of the way,” Dupuy said. “We played them twice last season and scored 51 and 46 parts. They were knockdown, drag-out games, and we struggled to score.”