Whyte’s buzzer beater lifts NSU over New Orleans
NATCHITOCHES, La. (NSU) - The outcome of Saturday’s Southland Conference women’s basketball game between Northwestern State and New Orleans hung in the balance for what seemed like an eternity – especially given that the deciding play took place in 0.4 seconds of game time.
Alecia Whyte’s short jumper as time expired lifted the Lady Demons to an 82-81 win – an outcome that seemed like a long shot on a couple of occasions late in the game.
“Proud is an understatement,” third-year head coach Anna Nimz said. “Resilient is an understatement. Today had so much meaning aside from basketball, so for these girls to come out and get this game done for what today means with Fork Cancer and with the seniors playing their tails off, I’m proud of them. I’m happy for the program, but I’m proud of those girls.”
Whyte hit the game-winner off an inbounds pass from Sharna Ayres with Whyte running an audible off Nimz’ initial call for a lob. Whyte’s first points since the third quarter came on her first buzzer beater and gave Northwestern State (11-14, 7-8) a split of the season series with the Privateers (6-18, 5-10).
Although the play took less than half a second, everyone in Prather Coliseum had to wait out an extended video review process to confirm Whyte had shot the ball in time.
“Honestly, it felt like a trillion years,” Whyte said of the review. “We even said a prayer. We were just waiting for the call. I felt like it was good anyway, so I was just patient for it.”
Whyte was patient on the inbounds play as well. When the lob opportunity did not present itself, Whyte popped to the right side of the lane where Ayres hit her with a pass to set up the game-winner.
“It was covered in the first part, so I did a jab and tried to get open,” Whyte said. “I put up a shot, and it felt good.”
While Whyte, a junior, delivered the ultimate heroics on Senior Day, the two pregame honorees – Candice Parramore and Kelsey Thaxton – played pivotal roles in putting NSU in position to have a 2-1 homestand.
Parramore scored 24 of her 26 points in the second half and overtime, highlighted by a 15-point third quarter that saw both teams produce more points in that 10-minute span than in the first half. It was Parramore’s team-leading fourth 20-point game of the season and the 11th in her two-year NSU career.
While Parramore was driving the Lady Demon offense in what became a back-and-forth second half, Thaxton did the majority of her offensive damage in the closing minutes and in overtime, scoring all seven of her points in the final 5:03 of game time.
Included in that seven-point surge were four free throws at the 3.5-second mark of the fourth quarter that came via a shooting foul on Thaxton’s attempted 3-pointer and an ensuing technical foul on New Orleans’ Brianna Ellis.
Thaxton cleanly sank all three of the free throws she earned on the shot. Initially, Parramore was in line to shoot the two technical free throws but deferred to Thaxton.
“I feel like she put us in that position,” Parramore said.
Thaxton missed the first technical free throw before sinking the second to tie the game and set up NSU’s first overtime game of the season.
“Coming up to the line, I was a little nervous, a little shaky,” Thaxton said. “I knew I had to knock them down and put us in position to go into overtime. I don’t have any words for (Parramore’s decision). My teammates have always been there for me no matter what. Having that confidence and trust, I don’t even know what to say to that.”
Thaxton’s spotlight moment wasn’t done when regulation ended.
After the Privateers scored eight of the first 10 points in overtime, Thaxton drained a 3-pointer with 2:43 to play to slice the lead in half. From there, Parrarmore put together a personal 4-0 surge to give NSU a one-point lead with 47 seconds to play.
That stood until New Orleans’ Tara Green scored while being fouled with 19 seconds left. Green missed the free throw, leaving open a chance for Northwestern State to grab a pivotal win in terms of Southland Conference Tournament eligibility.
“You play it back to halftime,” Nimz said. “Candice Parramore is pretty much money with that corner 3. She had a lot of opportunities, and she had two points. Thankfully, Sharna was hitting. We challenged them. People stepped up. They contributed.
“In the Lamar game, Jelly (Jiselle Woodson) breaks someone down and plays it to the rim. This time, she breaks someone down and plays it to Kelsey, who doesn’t get that big-time foul without Jiselle having that poise and awareness. (Whyte) doesn’t get hers without Sharna making a great pocket pass to her by playing calm.”
Ayres had 14 of her 19 points in the first half as NSU built a four-point lead while De Arica Pryor paced UNO with a game-high 27 points, 26 of which came after halftime.
Both Pryor and Parramore hit at least 10 free thows in a game that featured a combined 72 free throws and 57 fouls, including two technicals.
Joelle Johnson added 11 for Northwestern State, which established season highs in both free throws (25) and free-throw attempts (34).
The Lady Demons play two of their final three games of the season on the road, starting with Thursday’s game at UIW. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. in San Antonio.
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