Second-half blitz propels Lady Demons to rompover Centenary
NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State women’s basketball team did a lot of things it set out to do Saturday afternoon against visiting Centenary.
The Lady Demons still left a few boxes unchecked. Fortunately for them, their positives well outweighed the unfinished business.
Thanks to another big second half, the Lady Demons snapped a brief two-game skid, rolling past the visiting Ladies, 94-51, at Prather Coliseum.
Northwestern State (4-4) scored 54 second-half points, continuing a trend that began against ULM on Dec. 2.
“We’ve got to do a better job with our start,” third-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “I’m still trying to figure out what it is. We came out with an aggressive game plan in hopes of playing with a sense of urgency.
“We didn’t hit our stride until late in the first quarter. You have to give them credit. They handled our pressure to a degree early and made us take bad shots.”
The Lady Demons won their 22nd straight game against non-Division I competition, although it took shaking off another sluggish start offensively.
In the first half, NSU hit 16 of 39 shots from the field, a 41 percent clip. Sticking with their game plan, the Lady Demons were much more efficient in the second half, sinking 23 of 39 shots (59 percent) to finish 39 for 78 for the game.
Northwestern State repeatedly pounded the ball inside in the second half, tallying 38 points in the paint in the final 20 minutes.
“The game plan was to get it down low,” Dupuy said. “We started establishing ourselves more in the second half and scored much easier. Our goal was 50 points in the paint, and we had 64, so that’s good. We have to have better starts tough, especially when conference play rolls around.”
The one constant throughout Saturday was the Lady Demons’ defense.
NSU forced the visiting Ladies, a Division III team playing the game as an exhibition, into 45 turnovers, marking a season high for Northwestern State, which entered the game fifth nationally in turnovers forced per game at 25.7.
The Lady Demons played 11 players, 10 of whom recorded a steal. Jasmyn Johnson had five steals as Northwestern State tied its season high in steals, set against LeTourneau on Nov. 12.
The 45 forced turnovers were the second most in the Dupuy era, just behind the 47 NSU forced against Central Baptist on Dec. 20, 2017.
Northwestern State turned those turnovers into 50 points, 33 of which came after halftime as the Lady Demons turned the attention inside offensively.
Libba Gilliam led three Northwestern State players in double figures with a season-high 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Gilliam hit 3 of 5 3-pointers to establish a career high in made 3s.
Dupuy highlighted Gilliam’s ability to score at all three levels as part of the reason for her first 20-point game since her career-high 30-point outing at Southeastern Louisiana on Jan. 20, 2018.
“I really just got in the gym more and focused on my shot, because it wasn’t falling before,” said Gilliam, who went 0-for-2 in Sunday’s loss to ULM. “I had to get in the gym and put in the extra work. Scoring on post moves gives you more confidence to shoot outside, so they work together.”
Kira Bonner had 17 points for Northwestern State while Leah Barnes added 10, eight of which came after halftime.
Barnes’ 10 points set a season high and made her the 10th different Lady Demon to reach double figures in a game this season.
“It felt really good,” said Barnes, who played a season-high 17 minutes as she works her way back from a knee injury. “I’ve had my ups and downs, but I felt a lot more comfortable than I did at the start (of the season).”
Savanah Doty, Darelzray Bellard and Bre Frierson all had 10 points to lead Centenary, which outrebounded Northwestern State, 42-40.
Northwestern State has an eight-day break between games, resuming its schedule at Alabama on Dec. 16.
- < PREV UCF presents a quality, proven challenger for LSU in Fiesta Bowl
- NEXT > Tulane Women's Basketball sees winning streak snapped at Alabama