NATCHITOCHES – Seven days ago, Jordan Dupuy asked his Northwestern State women’s basketball team to give him four quarters.
They did more than that Saturday afternoon at Prather Coliseum.
Playing their first overtime game of the season, the Lady Demons outlasted Southland Conference co-leading Stephen F. Austin, 76-72, on “Pack Prather” day to snap a three-game losing streak.
“It’s unbelievable how proud I am,” the first-year coach said. “This is the team I thought we could be a long time ago. We looked at Lamar last week and said, ‘Let that be our turning point.’ It wasn’t anything we did differently from a preparation standpoint as coaches. We had a team that practiced with confidence all week and believed it could come in and win today.”
After trailing by as much as 12 in the first half, the Lady Demons (10-11, 4-6 Southland) put together a much stingier defensive effort to slow the Ladyjacks (17-4, 8-2) in the final 25 minutes.
Stephen F. Austin shot 48.6 percent in the first half before slipping to 32.1 percent in the second half and overtime.
Northwestern State, meanwhile, hit 51.7 percent of its shots and committed just eight turnovers after halftime.
Offensively, the Lady Demons followed a tried and true formula.
Senior guard Beatrice Attura and sophomore post Cheyenne Brown each scored 23 points, marking the fifth time they have gone over 20 points in the same game this season. Not coincidentally, the Lady Demons are 5-0 in those games.
“Cheyenne did a great job,” said Attura, who finished with a game-high eight assists. “She came up clutch when we needed her. There was one time in overtime where I drove and threw it up – I didn’t even know where I threw it – but she got the rebound and put it back in to put us up four.”
Trailing by nine with 1:11 to play in the third quarter, Attura fed Brown for a layup and followed with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to four. Attura started the fourth quarter with a second-chance 3 and Sami Thomas’ jumper with 8:19 to play gave the Lady Demons their first lead since the 6:40 mark of the first quarter.
The lead changed hands four more times in the final 8:19 before Attura was fouled with 1.9 seconds to play.
An 83.3 percent free throw shooter, Attura saw her first free throw rattle out before rattling in the game-tying shot.
Undeterred, Attura and Brown had four points apiece in the overtime period to give NSU its second straight win against Stephen F. Austin in Natchitoches.
“The old Beatrice probably would have hung her head,” Dupuy said. “She didn’t, and she was unbelievable in overtime.”
Attura, who moved past Stephanie Washington and into 23rd place on NSU’s all-time scoring list with 1,227 career points, agreed with her coach’s assessment.
She and Brown also agreed with Dupuy’s point about the increased scoring of Libba Gilliam, who tied a career high with 11 points, and Thomas, who finished with seven points and four assists against only one turnover.
“Libba and Sami give us so many more options,” said Brown, who grabbed a team-best eight rebounds. “We were underdogs today. We had nothing to lose. We prepared the way we needed to prepare. Now we have to keep that mind-set when we go play teams like Abilene Christian and when we go back to SFA.”
Taylor Ross led SFA with 24 points and gave the Ladyjacks their final lead on a three-point play with 2:16 to play in regulation. Kennedy Harris and Brentney Branch each added 16 for Stephen F. Austin.
Northwestern State returns to action Thursday when it hosts Houston Baptist at 5:30 p.m. in Prather Coliseum. The game is the first of a doubleheader, which also includes the men’s teams from both schools.