The independent student news organization of Nicholls State University

the nicholls worth

The independent student news organization of Nicholls State University

the nicholls worth

The independent student news organization of Nicholls State University

the nicholls worth

Head Coach Justin Payne looks to “reboot” Nicholls women’s basketball

Photo by: Nicholls Athletics
Lexi Alexander (#21) goes for a layup during the 12/31/22 game against Southeastern.

THIBODAUX, La. – After a season where the Nicholls State University women’s basketball team only won five games and lost their head coach, the Colonels have a renewed sense of optimism.

In April, Nicholls welcomed Justin Payne as the 10th head coach in program history, after former head coach DoBee Plaisance resigned in March.

Payne, a native of Opelousas, La. is no stranger to the program. He served under Plaisance as an assistant coach for eight seasons, including the 2017-18 season where the Colonels won their first Southland Conference Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Payne comes back to Nicholls after a four-year stint as head coach at Georgia Southwestern University. 

Payne posted a 69-35 overall record as head coach of the Hurricanes, including a historic 2021-22 season in which he led them to a 23-7 overall record and their first-ever NCAA Division II Tournament appearance and win.

Payne said he’s excited to coach his first game as a head coach at Nicholls. 

“We’re trying to put all the pieces together,” Payne said. “I’m excited for Monday, can’t wait.”

Payne said that he believes this program is under a reboot, something he’s been preaching since April.

“We’re bringing a refreshed feel to this program,” Payne said. “Our girls have been attacking that mindset that this is not the same team it was last year or the year before. We’re coming to play.”

Nine of the 12 players from last year’s roster are present on this year’s roster of 18, including junior Deonna Brister and sophomore Lexi Alexander.

Brister, a 6-foot guard, started 23 of the 25 games she played last season, averaging 12.6 points per game, along with 7.2 rebounds and a 71% free throw percentage.

In the final four games of last season, Brister recorded three 12-point games, two games with 10 or more rebounds, and in all four games combined, she recorded a total of six assists, seven steals and two blocks. 

Brister said she wants to be consistent in her play coming into this season.

“I’ve been working hard in the preseason,” Brister said. “I’ve been following [Payne’s] orders, and going hard every day.”

Alexander, a 6-foot forward, comes off of her freshman season where she averaged 13.8 points per game, 8.4 rebounds, and recorded 36 steals and 31 blocks. That performance earned Alexander the 2022 Southland Conference Freshman of the Year title and a spot on the All-Louisiana second team.

Alexander said she is building up from last season, and making sure her presence is known.

“I’m working on improving my game and catching defenders by surprise,” Alexander said. “I think teams are definitely going to scout me for all they think I can do, but I’m ready to show them some other things I got in my bag.”

Betzalys Delgato, a 5-foot-7 freshman guard, comes from Central Pointe Christian Academy in Kissimmee, Fla. by way of Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Delgato has struggled a bit with the transition from overseas but said she remains optimistic.

“It’s hard having to leave my family and go for my dream,” Delgato said. “But with God’s blessing, my family and my coaches, I can live out my dream.”

Nicholls women’s basketball starts off the season on Monday, Nov. 6, against North American University. 

Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Stopher Gymnasium. 

The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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Tory Trahan
Tory Trahan, Staff Writer
Greetings humans! I'm Tory, a freshman pursuing a degree in Journalism. I was born and raised in Lafayette. When I'm not living my dream of pursuing, I'm either playing video games or eating snacks. Alright, gotta get back to writing. See ya!

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