Lady Demons fall to McNeese after hot start

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 8:12 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (NSU) - Northwestern State got off to a scorching start on Thursday. The heat was doused however by the sludgy finish in a 71-65 loss at McNeese.

The Lady Demons (4-8, 0-2) scored 27 points on a 71 percent effort from the floor through the first 10 minutes of the game, but six fourth quarter turnovers leading directly to 12 Cowgirl points was enough for McNeese to get the come-from-behind victory.

For the sixth time this season the Lady Demons got their first points of the game from beyond the arc. Sharna Ayers stepped to the left wing and drained the first shot of the game seconds after Jiselle Woodson corralled the opening tip.

Ayres served as the primary catalyst for NSU’s frenetic offensive start. She began the game making her first five shot attempts, all from beyond the arc, including the first four triples within the first four minutes of the game, securing her fifth straight double-figure scoring effort in the first quarter.

The Lady Demons went 6-for-7 from beyond the arc in the first quarter and the 27 points was the most in the first quarter of a game this season, and the second most in any quarter.

The Cowgirls weathered the early storm and eliminated the double-digit lead quickly in the second quarter. A block on the defensive end and jumper on the other from Jasmin Dixon gave NSU a 10-pont lead early in the second.

Back-to-back buckets from McNeese followed and began a 17-2 run that stretched the next six minutes of the quarter that saw the Cowgirls tie the game and then take the lead at 34-31 with 3:34 left in the half.

It wasn’t until Kelsey Thaxton flew in for an offensive rebound and put back that got the Demons back on the scoreboard and end a three-plus minute scoring drought. Thaxton’s layup made it a 36-33 game with 2:29 remaining in the half. After a defensive stop Woodson dropped in NSU’s seventh 3-pointer of the half to tie the game with under two minutes to go.

The Lady Demons finished the half 7-for-13 from beyond the arc, converting just one in the second quarter, after the torrid start from deep to begin the game.

Woodson put NSU back on top with the first made shot of the second half, a 3-pointer from the top of the key. It was one of five lead changes in the period that saw neither team get more than a four-point lead.

McNeese’s Desirae Hansen made one of her four triples in the game with two minutes to go only to immediately be answered by Bengisu Alper to put NSU ahead going into the fourth quarter.

A turnover two dribbles into the final quarter set the stage for what would be NSU’s downfall. Eight McNeese points in the first two and a half minutes of the fourth quarter came directly from Demon turnovers.

Despite the sludgy start to the quarter, a banked-in 3-pointer from Thaxton and a steal and runout bucket from Alecia Whyte brought the Demons within a point at 64-63 with 5:26 left in the game.

NSU had the ball and a chance to take the lead back after forcing a Cowgirl turnover, but did not see the shot fall, leading to two more giveaways and four more McNeese points to go back ahead 68-63.

The Lady Demons went 0-for-6 from the floor in the span of five minutes late in the game that allowed McNeese to hold on for the victory.

Ayres led three Demons with double figures in the game with a team-best 17. Woodson finished with 16 points and Joelle Johnson added 11, her third double-digit scoring game of the season.