CORPUS CHRISTI, TX -- The Northwestern State women’s basketball team’s first visit to the Dugan Wellness Center did not change its fortunes in South Texas.
Homestanding Texas A&M-Corpus Christi blitzed the Lady Demons with a double-figure scoring run to start the game, setting the tone for a 79-55 Southland Conference victory in its on-campus arena Wednesday night.
It was the Lady Demons' fourth straight loss to the Islanders and marked their first time to play in the Islanders' on-campus arena after playing in the downtown American Bank Center in their first seven trips to Corpus Christi.
The Islanders (8-6, 2-1) scored the first 10 points of the game, putting the Lady Demons (6-8, 1-2) in a deep hole to begin the game. Coupled with one of its toughest nights of the season offensively, it made for a long climb for Northwestern State.
“It goes back to mental toughness,” third-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “We never once showed that tonight. We didn’t come out tough and got slapped in the mouth by their starting group. Our starters weren’t ready to play. We subbed in and continued to make the same mistakes.”
Dae Dae Evans’ career night sparked Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s offense, which shot nearly 50 percent for much of the game before a cold end to the fourth quarter dropped their percentage to 45.6.
Evans keyed the Islanders offense, hitting 13 of 22 shots from the field en route to a career-high 31 points. Evans was not alone in tallying double-figure scoring totals.
Dalesia Booth added 17 points and Tiara Matthews had 12. Matthews was able to do most of her damage in the paint, hitting 6 of 9 shots while grabbing 10 rebounds, tying for the game high.
Thanks to Matthews’ and Alexes Bryant’s 10-rebound games, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi outrebounded Northwestern State by 24 (50-26), leading to a 22-2 advantage in second-chance points.
After the Islanders took their initial 10-0 advantage with 7:29 to play in the first quarter, the Lady Demons cut the lead to single digits just twice, the last time coming on Leah Barnes’ layup with 5:14 to play in the first quarter.
“It came down to effort,” Dupuy said. “They played harder. They played tougher. They played more physical. It is a disappointment, because I thought we’ve moved past that. We took big steps back tonight. As coaches, we have to figure out how to get them ready for Saturday.”
Nautica Grant scored 10 of her team-leading 13 points in the second half, becoming the lone Lady Demon to crack the double-figure scoring mark. NSU shot 39.7 percent, hitting 21 of 44 shots after a 2-for-14 first-quarter performance.
Libba Gilliam and Kira Bonner each had nine points for Northwestern State.
The Lady Demons conclude a short, two-game conference road swing Saturday at Stephen F. Austin. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at William R. Johnson Coliseum