NACOGDOCHES, Texas – With a trip to the Southland Conference Tournament already in its pocket, the Northwestern State women’s basketball team had one focus here Thursday night – solve its road woes.
The Lady Demons nearly did just that, whittling a 21-point to as little as nine points, before Stephen F. Austin pulled away in the final five minutes for a 80-67 Southland Conference victory.
“It’s baffling,” first-year head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “We come out lethargic in the first half, and then we’re aggressive the entire second half, and we outscore them by six. That’s a lesson we should have learned earlier in the season. We have to continue to change our mentality. That’s our last true road game, and it was an opportunity to come up with a big road win, and we come out like we didn’t have a chance.”
The Lady Demons (13-15, 7-10) cut a 21-point Stephen F. Austin lead to nine and had a chance to slice the lead to seven with less than six minutes to play.
A Gabby Bell layup spun out with 5:33 to play and the Ladyjacks (22-6, 13-4) converted the rebound into a bucket to start a 6-2 run that re-established a double-figure SFA lead.
The Ladyjacks never allowed Northwestern State to come any closer than 11 in the final four-plus minutes as the Lady Demons finished the road portion of Southland Conference play with one win away from Prather Coliseum.
“I told them at the half, we looked like we didn’t expect to win,” Dupuy said. “We come out in the second half, compete our tail off and outscore them by six. Why not do that for four quarters?”
The Lady Demons, coming off a season-best 61.2-percent shooting performance in a 95-93 victory against New Orleans on Saturday, hit just 2 of 10 first-quarter shots and connected on 8 of 21 first-half shots.
Stephen F. Austin, meanwhile, hit seven first-half 3-pointers, shooting 58.3 percent from beyond the arc, part of a first half in which the Ladyjacks hit 50 percent from the field and built a 19-point halftime lead.
Cheyenne Brown led Northwestern State with 26 points while Beatrice Attura added 21 points, the eighth time this season the pair has each scored at least 20 points in a game. Before Thursday night, the Lady Demons had been 7-0 in those games.
“The thing Cheyenne does is she makes open shots,” Dupuy said. “She has a great feel on the offensive end.”
Attura hit four 3-pointers, giving her 83 on the season, one shy of tying Janelle Perez’ school record set in the 2015-16 season.
The Lady Demons wrap up the regular season Saturday by hosting Southland Conference co-leader Central Arkansas. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. on Senior Day at Prather Coliseum.