NATCHITOCHES -- The second straight strong fourth quarter for the Northwestern State women’s basketball team wasn’t enough to produce its first back-to-back conference wins of the season.
That, in large part, was because of a sluggish start that saw the Lady Demons fall behind visiting New Orleans by double figures in the first quarter.
That early deficit proved too much to overcome despite a furious final five minutes inside Prather Coliseum as the Privateers hung on for a 67-62 Southland Conference victory.
“The effort in the first and second quarters wasn’t there,” third-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said “We dug ourselves too big of a hole. We played extremely hard on the defensive end in the second half and turned them over a bunch, but we didn’t convert enough. Their zone caused us to be complacent. We didn’t play in attack mode, which was our motto for this game. We didn’t do that to start.”
Finding themselves down by as many as 15 less than two minutes into the second quarter, the Lady Demons (7-12, 2-6) sliced the lead to 10 at halftime before attempting to replicate Saturday’s comeback victory against Southeastern Louisiana.
As it did Saturday, Northwestern State trailed by four entering the final quarter. Unlike Saturday, the Lady Demons quickly found themselves down by double figures before mounting one final rally.
After Vaquela “Pebbles” Pimpton’s layup put the Privateers (6-12, 2-7) ahead 59-47 with 5:02 remaining, Northwestern State cranked up its defense, which sparked its best offensive stretch of the night.
Freshman RaVon Nero (15 points) started an 11-4 push with an inverted three-point play, scoring on a layup after splitting a pair of free throws and following that with her second 3-pointer of the night to cut the lead to five.
Down by six, Nautica Grant’s layup with 1:13 to play capped a 5-2 run for the left-handed senior and pulled the Lady Demons back within four.
Nero’s final 3 – Northwestern State’s fifth of the final quarter – cut the Privateers’ lead to three, but the Lady Demons were unable to take advantage of New Orleans’ late struggles at the free-throw line.
UNO missed all four of its free throws in the final 39 seconds, unable to build on a five-point lead. However, Northwestern State had three scoreless possessions to finish the game.
NSU’s bench sparked its third-quarter comeback effort and outscored its Privateers’ counterparts, 31-22. Jasmyn Johnson tied her season high with 15 points and matched a career high with six steals.
Johnson’s six steals were part of a 21-steal night for the Lady Demons, who forced 31 turnovers. Northwestern State turned those miscues into 22 points, outscoring UNO by only one point despite a plus-nine advantage in turnovers.
Johnson exited the game for good with 2:53 to play after being injured chasing a loose ball.
“Jasmyn did a great job for us,” Dupuy said. “We hope she’s going to be OK. You’re always scared with non-contact injuries, especially when you grab the knee. Hopefully, she’ll be OK. We’re going to say our prayers for her.”
Shania Woods led three Privateers in double figures with 15 points while Natchitoches Central High School product Jada Duncantell added 14 points in a homecoming game and Pimpton chipped in 12.
“We didn’t make the plays we needed to,” Dupuy said. “If we play with effort, especially on the defensive end, we’ll get the results we want. Now, we need to steal one on the road at Central Arkansas.”
The Lady Demons start a three-game road trip Saturday against Central Arkansas. Tip off is set for 2 p.m. inside the Farris Center.