Lady Demons pull away from pesky Central Baptist

  • icon
  • icon
  • icon
  • icon

NATCHITOCHES – Jordan Dupuy said he knew his Northwestern State women’s basketball team needed to beware of the improvement Central Baptist had made between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

One year after falling by 65 points at Prather Coliseum, the visiting Mustangs, members of the NAIA, hung around for much of the first half before the Lady Demons ‘ suffocating defense allowed Northwestern State to build some breathing room in an 82-56 victory Friday afternoon.

“We emphasized how much better this team was than last year,” Dupuy said. “They thought there may have been some cruise-control activity today, and there wasn’t. You have to give (Central Baptist) credit. They came out and attacked. They crashed the glass. We have got to become a tougher team physically and mentally.”

Dupuy had a checklist for his Lady Demons (5-5), and while they did not mark every box on that list, there were some positive developments in a game that was much closer than Northwestern State’s 87-22 victory on Dec. 20, 2017.

The Lady Demons forced 32 turnovers, which will increase their national-leading 27.8 average and virtually assure them of maintaining their No. 1 ranking in that category through Christmas.

Northwestern State converted those 32 turnovers into 31 points, outscoring the Mustangs, who played the game as an exhibition, by 22 points in that category.

“We’ve got to do a better job of converting off turnovers,” Dupuy said. “We did a pretty good job of it today. I wanted a point per turnover. We met some goals, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

Despite shooting 11-for-34 from the floor in the first half, the Lady Demons took an 18-point lead into halftime because of their ability to shoot free throws.

After sinking just 53.4 percent of their free throws in the past two games (31-for-58), Northwestern State connected on 15 of 16 first-half free throws to build its big advantage.

The success at the free-throw line extended to the 3-point arc as the Lady Demons connected on 10 of 24 3-pointers, their first double-figure 3-point shooting game of the season.

Nautica Grant knocked down four of those 3-pointers en route to a season-high 16 points. Grant had scored 15 points total in her previous four games.

Two of her 3-pointers came on consecutive possessions after the Mustangs whittled the 18-point halftime deficit to as little as nine. Grant’s back-to-back 3s and one from Kira Bonner (15 points) pushed the lead back to 19 with 1:35 to play in the third quarter.

“Getting in the gym,” Grant said of what sparked her best shooting game of the season. “My coaches stayed on me. My preparation was better, and I trusted in the work I did. (Dupuy) always emphasized putting in the work and trusting what we do.”

All four of Grant’s 3-pointers came in the second half as she had 14 of her 16 points after the halftime break.

While Grant scored more in the second half, Bonner helped build the first-half lead with nine points. A junior college transfer, Bonner connected on 3 of 7 3-pointers and produced the seventh double-figure scoring output in her first 10 career games.

“Our best game is our defense,” said Bonner, who chipped in three of Northwestern State’s 17 steals. “Our defense gets our offense going. When we got stops on the defensive end, it contributed on the offensive end.”

RaVon Nero added 11 points for the Lady Demons, who had all 11 players score at least three points. Nine of the 11 collected steals while four players had at least two assists as Northwestern State notched a 20-to-18 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Jasmyn Johnson was the catalyst for that, handing out a career-best seven assists against only one turnover.

“A lot of times she made the extra pass,” Dupuy said. “I honestly thought on some of those, she should have scored it, but we came away with the basket anyway.”

Sierra Carrier led Central Baptist with 15 points while Kendra Cummings pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds as the Mustangs outrebounded the Lady Demons, 50-46.

Northwestern State will take an eight-day break for the second time in December before returning to action Dec. 29 at Texas. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.

  • < PREV Colonels cruise past William Carey, 86-45
  • NEXT > Injury Report: Saints could have Terron Armstead, Ted Ginn, Jr. back for Steelers game