Lamar's early run too much for Lady Demons to overcome

Photo Source: Chris Reich (NSU)
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NATCHITOCHES, La (NSU) - The Northwestern State women’s basketball team wanted to own the early part of Wednesday’s Southland Conference game against Lamar.

Instead, the Lady Demons dug themselves a big early hole before settling in and playing three tough quarters against the Cardinals, who entered Prather Coliseum sitting in second place in the conference.

That fast start was enough to propel Lamar to a 94-70 victory, denying the Lady Demons a second straight conference win for the first time this season.

“The first two possessions, we lose the best player on the floor (Lamar’s Moe Kinard),” third-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “She hit a 3 off the offensive rebound on the first possession. The next possession, we gamble on a cross-court pass and leave her open in the corner. We turned it over, and it’s 8-0. They punched us in the mouth. We basically played them even the rest of the way.

“That’s a lesson we shouldn’t have to teach at this point. We played on our heels the entire first quarter.”

Lamar (18-5, 11-1) opened the game on a 9-0 run as part of a 39-point first quarter in which the Cardinals hit 15 off 22 shots, including 6 of 9 3-pointers.

Following the blitz, the Lady Demons (8-15, 3-9) locked down defensively to make it a game.

After allowing 39 points in the first 10 minutes, Northwestern State limited the Cardinals to 28 points in the second and third quarters as they found their offensive footing.

Northwestern State flashed its ability to fashion a big scoring run of its own, closing the third quarter on an 11-1 run to slice Lamar’s 23-point lead to 12 as Sami Thomas beat the third-quarter buzzer on a 3-pointer.

“We talked about being poised in the second half,” Dupuy said. “We took a 29-point lead down to 12 and had the ball with a chance to get it to 10 to start the fourth quarter. We just couldn’t make the plays to completely get back in it. I liked our fight, but we need to start the game with that same kind of fight.”

After Lamar’s blistering first-quarter shooting performance, the Lady Demons held the visitors to 19-of-58 shooting in the final three quarters, including a 4-for-19 mark from 3-point range.

Northwestern State outshot Lamar and grabbed one more rebound than the Cardinals (47-46), marking the second straight game NSU has outrebounded its opponent.

The Lady Demons, however, could not overcome a season-high 31 turnovers and 19 Lamar offensive rebounds.

“When you have 31 turnovers, you’re not going to win a lot of games,” Dupuy said. “You’ve got to give them credit. The way they played, chaotic, plays into their hands when you don’t have poise. They had (53 points) between second-chance points and points off turnovers. It’s very difficult to win. If you told me before the game we would outshoot them and outrebound them, I would have told you we would win, but you look at those two areas, and that was the difference.”

Kinard led Lamar with 31 points, hitting 5 of 10 3-pointers, while Chastadie Barrs, the NCAA’s leader in steals, produced a 24-point, 10-steal double-double. Miya Crump gave Lamar a third double-figure scorer, tallying 18 points.

Four days after putting five players in double figures against a Division I opponent for the first time in more than two years, the Lady Demons saw three players cross that threshold Wednesday.

RaVon Nero paced NSU with 15 points while Libba Gilliam (14) and Nautica Grant (13) each broke the double-figure plateau. Victoria Miller grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds to help the Lady Demons win the battle of the boards.

“She did a great job,” Dupuy said of Miller. “We started getting stops late in the second half that led to transition points. She finished several times with the left hand, including once through contact. The most impressive thing was how hard she crashed the glass. The thing she did the best, especially to start the third quarter, was she face-guarded the best player on the floor and didn’t let her touch it. Victoria had a very well-rounded game, but we need that from her every game.”

The Lady Demons continue their season-long, three-game homestand Saturday when they host Stephen F. Austin at 1:02 p.m. The matchup is the annual “Pack Prather” game and will be televised on ESPN3.