Scott’s late 3s, little things lift Lady Demons over UNO

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NATCHITOCHES – Facing virtually the same situation it fell short in four days earlier, the Northwestern State women’s basketball team dis all the little things it needed to Wednesday night.

In turn, Jocelyn Scott delivered two massive moments.

Scott sank a pair of 3-pointers 31 seconds apart in the fourth quarter, turning a one-point deficit into a five-point lead in what eventually became a 52-47 Lady Demons Southland Conference victory against New Orleans at Prather Coliseum.

“Coming in, I know I needed to score,” said Scott, who was 0-for-1 before sinking the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:35 to play. “I felt it as soon as Leah (Barnes) kicked it out to me for the first shot. I wasn’t hesitating. I was confident, like coach (Jordan) Dupuy told us at halftime, the third quarter and the fourth quarter.

“He wanted us to shoot with confidence. I knew when my number was called it was time for me to make a big play.”

Scott’s two big shots helped Northwestern State (7-14, 2-8) snap a three-game losing streak and deny New Orleans (11-11, 7-4) its first six-game winning streak in more than 25 years.

The Lady Demons were able to do so in large part because of a defense that limited the Privateers to 33.3 percent shooting for the game and locked down on New Orleans standout Randi Brown.

Brown entered the game averaging 22.3 points per game, the 10th-highest total in the nation. Pressured throughout Wednesday’s game by face-guarding NSU defenders, Brown shot 1-for-13 from the field and finished with two points.

Those two points came 41 seconds into the fourth quarter and gave New Orleans a 43-39 lead. In the final 9:19, the Privateers managed just four points all of which came on layups by Shania Woods (18 points, 11 rebounds).

“To give up 81 a week ago to this team and then to hold them to 47, you hold the best player in conference to 1-of-13 and 0-of-8 from 3, I’m very proud of our team,” second-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “What we didn’t have against Central Arkansas in the end was execution. We had some late fourth-quarter execution tonight.

“Like I told them in the locker room, you never know when your number’s going to be called. For (Scott) to not play well early, to hit those two shots is tremendous.”

While the Lady Demons ran various defenders at Brown throughout the night, Tia Youngblood chased down nearly every loose ball for Northwestern State.

Youngblood scored just four points but grabbed 12 rebounds, the highest total of her career against a Division I opponent. Behind Youngblood, the Lady Demons posted a plus-eight advantage on the rebounds, seven days after New Orleans outrebounded NSU by six in an 81-63 win at Lakefront Arena.

Youngblood, the Lady Demons’ lone healthy senior, also blocked a career-high-tying three shots, equaling the mark she set on March 14, 2015, in the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament during her freshman season.

“We’ve been really in a drought,” Youngblood said. “It’s coming down to the wire, and I’m thinking, ‘Do whatever it takes.’ Whatever I’ve got to do, I’m going to do. My teammates were lifting me up the entire time. I had to do it for my teammates.”

For the fourth time in five games, Northwestern State played with nine available players. Eight of those players scored with seven contributing at least six points.

Junior guard Nautica Grant connected on four 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 12 points as NSU’s lone double-figure scorer. Victoria Miller and Jasmyn Johnson each finished with nine points.

Much like Saturday’s loss against Central Arkansas, the Lady Demons found themselves in a tight game down the stretch. NSU trailed by four after Woods’ layup with 5:07 to play, but the Lady Demons turned up their defensive intensity in the final five-plus minutes.

Northwestern State held New Orleans to 1-for-8 shooting and forced three turnovers, allowing its offense to deliver.

Scott’s second 3-pointer came after an offensive rebound, part of a 15-10 advantage in second-chance points for the Lady Demons.

“The only thing that changed was our mentality,” Youngblood said. “Saturday, our coaches said we played not to lose instead of playing to win. Today, we were very focused and together. We played to win. We wanted it more than anything else.”

The Lady Demons wrap up a three-game homestand Saturday against McNeese. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. inside Prather Coliseum.

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