NATCHITOCHES – There have been plenty of firsts in 40-plus years of Northwestern State women’s basketball history.
A pair of Lady Demons added another Thursday night.
Beatrice Attura and Cheyenne Brown each had 30 points in an 89-71 victory against Southeastern Louisiana in Prather Coliseum, marking the first time in program history two Lady Demons scored at least 30 points in the same game.
“It’s great — not only from a history standpoint but that we have that balance with somebody scoring on the inside and on the outside,” said NSU coach Jordan Dupuy. “You’ve got to get their teammates credit for getting them the ball and getting them open.
“But if Jocelyn Scott doesn’t come off the bench in the first half and gives us a huge lift when (Attura) gets two or fouls or if Libba Gilliam doesn’t get a career high as well, we don’t do what we did tonight. We got contributions from other players that allowed Beatrice and Cheyenne do what they did tonight.”
Brown added 11 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season and second against the Lady Lions. In two games against Southeastern this season, Brown averaged 23 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
“It’s an awesome experience to be part of a performance like this,” said Brown, who made 12-of-17 from the field. “It’s called teamwork — people get me the ball and get it to others.
“My teammates open me up, and when I have that, there’s nothing else I can do but thank them.”
Attura and Brown crossed the 20-point line in the same game for the sixth time this season, and each time Northwestern State (12-12, 6-7 Southland Conference) has emerged victorious.
Attura went to the free-throw line and sunk a pair late to reach 30 points, part of a 12-for-12 night from the stripe and a 25-for-27 team performance. The senior shot 8-of-15 from the field including 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
“I wasn’t really thinking about (scoring 30 points),” Attura said. “We were just trying to play and extend our lead. We had a 20-point lead in the third quarter, and they cut it to 10 in the fourth quarter.
“Southeastern started pressing us and were really aggressive with it, so I think we did a good job of attacking it. I was aware that I hadn’t missed from the free-throw line because I get mad at myself when I miss. I think they should all go in, but I wasn’t aware that I had 12 of them tonight.”
Attura and Brown had offensive help in the form of Libba Gilliam, who scored a career-high 14 point and aided their offense with timely defense.
“We got inside really well and did well in transition,” said Gilliam, who made 5-of-6 from the field for an NSU squad that shot 52 percent overall and scored at least 20 points in each quarter. “We were really poised against an aggressive defense, and we prepared well and were able to counter it.”
Ignited by that defense, the Lady Demons ripped off an 18-8 run to end the third quarter and scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to build a 21-point lead with eight minutes to play.
Southeastern Louisiana (5-20, 3-11) made one last run in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 11 on a pair of Jaclyn Scholvin free throws with 5:17 to play before NSU’s big three asserted themselves on offense once again.
In a span of 2:19, Brown and Gilliam combined for a trio of three-point plays to scuttle the Lady Lions’ chances at their second road win of the season.
After a back-and-forth first 16-plus minutes of the game, Northwestern State took control with a 12-3 run across the final 3:34 of the first half for a 41-32 halftime lead.
Even after Southeastern Louisiana threatened to reprise the second-half comeback it orchestrated in a 69-58 victory against Northwestern State on Jan. 25, the Lady Demons clamped down in the final 4:55 of the third quarter.
NSU allowed just eight points in that stretch and pushed its lead to 14 after three quarters.
Attura and Brown went about their record-setting tandem night in different ways.
Brown connected on a career-best 12 field goals in 17 attempts (70.6 percent), topping her Southland Conference-leading 61.6 field goal percentage.
Attura’s 12 free throws were a career high in a single game. With her second 30-point game of the season, Attura pushed her career point total to 1,294, moving her into 20th place on NSU’s all-time list.
Attura’s two 3-pointers pushed her to eighth-best in NSU single-season history with 62.
NSU’s 92 percent free-throw mark continued a trend as the Lady Demons entered the game as the 15th-best free throw shooting team in the country at 77.3 percent.
“Every now and then, I get something right as a coach,” Dupuy said. “At the end of shoot around today, we didn’t get to shoot free throws.
“But watching their game film, they are very aggressive, and with the way we execute our game plan, I told them to get here early and shoot free throws because they will put us on the line. Ninety-two percent from the line was huge for us tonight, and that not’s coaching, that’s them being poised when they stepped up to the line.”
The Lady Demons wrap up their two-game homestead Saturday against defending SLC champion Abilene Christian. Tipoff for NSU’s annual Play 4 Kay game, with proceeds benefiting the Kay Yow Foundation, is set for 1 p.m.