*From NSU sports information office*
BEAUMONT, Texas – Balance is something coaches hope their teams achieve at some point during the season.
For the Northwestern State women’s basketball team, it found that often-elusive quality Saturday afternoon inside the Montagne Center.
NSU stifled host Lamar offensively while its offense enjoyed a scintillating start and finish in a 73-51 Southland Conference victory.
The win was the eighth in nine games for NSU (11-6, 5-1), which broke a tie with idle Central Arkansas for second place in the conference standings.
“We handled their press early on,” fourth-year co-head coach Brooke Stoehr said. “We defended well. Our players were really locked in to the scouting report as far as knowing who their scorers were and what we needed to do with player tendencies. We were very clean and crisp offensively. We got really good shots and converted on those.”
Clean and crisp may have been an understatement when describing the first quarter for Northwestern State (11-6, 5-1), which won for the eighth time in nine games.
NSU led by 18 points after the first 10 minutes, paced by a fast start by Janelle Perez, who knocked down all three of her field goal tries, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Perez notched her second straight 20-point game, tallying a game-high 21 points. Perez was joined in double figures by Beatrice Attura, who knocked down a career-high-tying four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.
Though Perez and Attura were the only two NSU players to reach double figures, NSU overwhelmed Lamar (6-11, 2-4) with a balanced attack. Six players scored at least six points as NSU dissected the Lady Cardinals’ defense with 19 assists on its 25 field goals.
Attura’s scoring total was her second straight game against Lamar that produced a career high. Attura also equaled a career high with five assists. Keisha Lee also handed out five assists, doing so without committing a turnover.
In the Southland Conference Tournament semifinals in March, Attura set a then-career high with 26 points in NSU’s overtime victory.
“Any time you can get your players sharing the basketball, moving and changing sides of the floor, and you get post touches and post finishes, it definitely makes it better for us offensively,” Stoehr said. “Bea was very good playing off two feet. Keisha Lee, five assists, no turnovers. Janelle shot the ball well, got us in our offense and really directed things for us.”
Not to be outdone by its offense, Northwestern State’s defense slowed Lamar’s offense, which entered the game ranked second in the Southland Conference in scoring, to 29 points through three quarters, building a 25-point lead after 30 minutes.
NSU limited Lamar to 27.1-percent shooting (13-for-48) for the game, and held Lady Cardinals guard Addesha Collins, the leading scorer in Southland Conference play, to three points. Collins averaged 21.6 points per game in Lamar’s first five conference games.
“She’s a dynamic scorer,” Stoehr said. “You don’t average 21 a game in conference play if you can’t score the basketball. Our players did a nice job. They didn’t have JaMeisha Edwards out there. That’s another offensive threat for them who wasn’t on the floor. We really tried to focus on taking Collins away and not allowing her to get clean looks at the basket.”
Kiara Desamours led Lamar with 14 points but shot just 4 for 13. Baileigh O’Dell (12 points) and Chastadie Barrs (11) gave the Lady Cardinals three double-figure scorers.
Tia Youngblood and Cheyenne Brown each had eight points and seven rebounds for Northwestern State, which outrebounded Lamar, 41-27, marking the fifth time in as many conference wins NSU has won the rebounding battle.
Northwestern State remains on the road for the next two games. NSU’s longest trip of Southland Conference play resumes Wednesday night at Nicholls. Tip time for the game in Thibodaux is set for 6 p.m.