Women’s Basketball — Balance, double-doubles propel Northwestern State past Nicholls

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NATCHITOCHES – It wasn’t two-for-one night at Prather Coliseum on Thursday, but the Northwestern State women’s basketball team collected its share of pairs.

Beatrice Attura and Tia Youngblood each recorded their first double-double, and the Lady Demons used a pair of blistering starts at the outset of the game and of the second half, cruising to a 73-58 Southland Conference victory against Nicholls.

“Our matchup zone was working well in the first quarter,” said first-year head coach Jordan Dupuy, who watched his team score the first 19 points of the game and limit Nicholls to two points in the first 10 minutes.

“We were making them shoot perimeter shots. We weren’t giving up points from the post. We contested. We blocked out. When we get stops and get rebounds and get out and run, that’s what our offense looks like.”

While holding the Colonels (5-10, 2-2) to an 0-for-14 first-quarter performance from the field, the Lady Demons (8-8, 2-3) knocked down 3 of 5 3-pointers and hit 7 of 15 overall from the floor.

Northwestern State’s solid shooting continued through the second quarter, but turnovers limited the Lady Demons to just nine shots. Despite hitting six of those, Northwestern State saw Nicholls close the gap to 10 at the break.

Coming out of the locker room, the Lady Demons again grabbed the momentum, ripping off a 12-0 run across the first 3:26 of the third quarter to build their largest lead of the game, a 22-point advantage. Fast-break baskets by Cheyenne Brown and Shahd Abboud capped the run and allowed the Lady Demons to remain ahead by double digits for the entirety of the second half.

The Lady Demons knocked down 50 percent of their shots for the game, led by Attura’s 7-for-12 performance and an 8-for-16 night for Abboud.

Attura led Northwestern State with 23 points and a career-best 11 assists, recording her first double-double. In three games as the Lady Demons’ starting point guard, she has handed out 23 assists while averaging 22 points per game.

“I’m more comfortable,” Attura said. “This is my third game playing point guard for 40 minutes, and I try to get my teammates involved. We had a size advantage, and when they were pressing, we were able to break the press easily. When we didn’t turn it over, we got layups. It’s easy for me to break it, then come down and pass it to my teammates.”

Dupuy preached finding more balance offensively after a loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi this past Saturday.

The Lady Demons responded.

Attura was one of five Northwestern State players to reach double figures, joining Abboud (18), Cheyenne Brown (12), Tia Youngblood (11) and Nia Randall (11). It marked the second time this season for the Lady Demons to accomplish the feat, joining a 113-65 win against Louisiana College on Dec. 20.

Youngblood joined Attura in the first-time double-double club, scoring a season-high 11 points and grabbing a season-best 11 rebounds.

Taking advantage of their superior size, the Lady Demons outrebounded Nicholls, 50-26, and held a 17-7 advantage in second-chance points.

“Rebounding is not something you practice,” Youngblood said. “It’s a want to get the ball. We wanted the ball more. That’s basically all it was.”

Randall enjoyed a memorable night as well.

The freshman made her first career start, becoming the third true freshman to do so this season, and delivered a season-high 11 points, making her the seventh Lady Demon to post a double-figure scoring game in 2016-17.

“I was very nervous at the beginning,” Randall said. “As the game went on, I was more relaxed. This was my time to step up for my team. (The fast start) helped me. I was at the top of the press, so I knew it all started with me.”

Northwestern State remains at home, completing a two-game conference homestand by hosting Sam Houston State at 1 p.m. Saturday. That game is the opener of another SLC doubleheader that also features the NSU and Sam Houston men.

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