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Women’s college basketball: Lady Demons fall on road at Lamar

by Russell Hedges

By Brad Welborn, Northwestern State Assistant Sports Information Director; featured photo by Jarrod Brown, Lamar Athletics

BEAUMONT, Texas – A potent offensive attack proved to be too much for Northwestern State on Saturday afternoon in a 73-56 loss to Lamar. 

The Cardinals (8-4, 2-0), led by Southland Conference leading scorer Sabria Dean, shot better than 50 percent from the field for three quarters of the game, with Dean leading the charge to the tune of 29 total points to dispatch the Demons (5-8, 1-1). 

“Proud of a lot of different things throughout the game,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “Although the score is not indicative of a lot of positives, there were things that the girls did very well.  

“Sabria Dean had an impressive game today. She is an excellent player that you simply have to tip your hat to. I believe the girls that matched up with her worked their tails off and gave it their best. She was just that good with back-to-back 29-point games.” 

An opening basket from Jasmin Dixon gave NSU the lead immediately after the opening tip, one they held through the first seven-plus minutes of the game. One of two quality driving layups from Nia Hardison followed by a pair of free throws from Sharna Ayres gave NSU a 12-7 lead late in the first. 

That was when the Cardinal offense found its groove making 5-of-6 field goals during a 14-2 run over the final three minutes of the opening quarter that flipped the lead and set the stage for the rest of the night. 

A pair of 3s within the first minute of the second quarter stretched the Cardinal lead to its biggest of the first half at 11, part of the larger 20-4 stretch that spanned the end of the first quarter. 

As quickly as the Cardinal offense sprinted out, they were clamped down upon with their star player on the bench. With Dean momentarily sidelined, the Cardinals went through a four-minute scoreless stretch that the Demons took full advantage of to climb back into the game. 

Three straight buckets from Hardison, Jiselle Woodson and Carla Celaya nearly fully erased the 11-point deficit and pulled NSU to within one possession at 27-24 with just under four minutes left in the half. 

The Cardinals’ Dean then subbed back into the game, immediately reigniting the offense to score 10 points over the final 3:29 of the half to take the 37-30 lead into the break. 

After matching a season high with six made 3-pointers in the first half, the Cardinals turned to their inside game to build their lead in the second. 

Three straight layups to open the third quarter, to Akasha Davis, stretched the lead back to double figures two minutes into the half. The NSU defense limited the post presence to just two points in the first two quarters before she scored on three straight trips to start the third quarter. 

The Demons found answers offensively through the first five minutes of the period, getting a deep ball from Karmelah Dean and continuing to find success cutting to the basket, but were held without a field goal for the final six minutes of the third quarter. 

The 14-3 Lamar run over the final 6:11 of the period was spearheaded by Dean who scored eight of the points and assisted on another that pushed the lead to a comfy 59-40 going to the fourth. 

NSU’s Dean led the team with 16 points on the night, going 5-for-10 from the field. Woodson also finished in double digits with 12 points, adding six assists and Hardison finished with 10, all coming in the first half. 

“We had one of our lowest turnover counts vs a very good defensive team,” Nimz said. “We need to commit to making rebounding a top priority every game, not just some games, and we will. 

“It’s a long season and I believe this group is special. We will bounce back and only get better.” 

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