CONWAY, Ark. (NSU) - The Northwestern State women’s basketball team executed well early Saturday afternoon inside the Farris Center.
The end of the first three quarters and the entire fourth quarter belonged to homestanding Central Arkansas.
The Sugar Bears scored with less than 2 seconds left in each of the first three quarters before holding the Lady Demons down in the fourth quarter of a 74-52 Southland Conference victory, handing Northwestern State its second consecutive loss.
“When you get outrebounded 49-23, you’re not going to win a game with those numbers,” third-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “We told them before the game that was going to be a huge key. That it was going to be their best offense. We told them in the first half, we needed to block out, and we never made the change.”
The Lady Demons (7-13, 2-7) scored nine of the game’s first 11 points, buoyed by early 3-pointers from Libba Gilliam and Sami Thomas, before Central Arkansas (8-12, 3-7) called timeout and swung the momentum its way.
The Sugar Bears answered NSU’s run with a 6-0 spurt of its own and, following a Gabby Bell layup, ended the quarter by scoring the final 12 points of the quarter. The final three points of the quarter came on a 25-foot heave by Taylor Sells to beat the buzzer.
Similar scenarios played out in each of the next two quarters. In each case, Northwestern State had pulled within four or fewer points before the Sugar Bears hit a key shot to re-establish momentum.
Trailing by three at the end of the second quarter, the Lady Demons held Central Arkansas to a missed shot, but a loose-ball scramble ended with the ball in the Sugar Bears hands and became an Alanie Fisher layup as the second-quarter buzzer sounded.
In the third quarter, Bell hit a layup with 4 seconds left to pull Northwestern State within four before being called for a foul on Kamry Orr’s halfcourt heave at the third-quarter buzzer. After a delay of several minutes to check the clock, Orr sank all three free throws and gave the Sugar Bears the final swing of momentum.
Central Arkansas used Orr’s free throws to start a game-clinching 19-2 run, holding the Lady Demons to nine points in the final quarter to secure its fifth straight win against Northwestern State.
“One, you can’t put yourself in position to let a referee make a call like that,” Dupuy said. “The other thing is, you’ve got to be tough enough to respond to that type of stuff. You had a situation in the second quarter where RaVon (Nero) gets slapped in the head and loses the ball and they lay it in. It’s a four-point swing if they call it and she hits two free throws at the other end. That’s seven points right there, but if you look at the final score, seven points didn’t matter. The bottom line is we have to be tougher.”
It was Fisher who allowed the Sugar Bears to build their sizeable advantage on the glass. She grabbed 13 rebounds – nine offensive – and added 13 points as one of three Central Arkansas players who reached double figures.
In addition to Fisher, Orr led the way with a game-high 26 points and Alana Canady added 13.
“At halftime, we said (Fisher) has not had a body on her all game,” Dupuy said. “She doesn’t touch it much in a half-court set, so her mentality is to get it off the offensive glass. That’s the only way she’s going to touch it. She owned her role.”
Nero led Northwestern State with 16 points, but no other Lady Demon reached double figures. It was the second time in three games only one NSU player cracked double figures in the scoring column.
The Lady Demons remain on the road, traveling to face New Orleans on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in Lakefront Arena.