In a game with 13 ties and 14 lead changes, the Lady Demons (8-13 overall, 4-7 in the Southland) avenged an 11-point loss at ORU (10-11, 7-4) while picking up their third homecourt win in four tries in front of a season-high 1,861 at Prather Coliseum.
The Lady Demons entered the game shooting just 37.0% from the floor and 28.6% from three-point range in their first 20 games, but they shot 61.9% overall and 53.3% from three-point land in Thursday’s win.
The Lady Demons came out hot, hitting five of their first nine three-pointers. A trey from Perez at the 12:37 mark gave the home team a 16-11 lead.
Janelle Perez pitched in 17 points, five straight to put NSU ahead in the decisive stretch run, and Jasmine Bradley added 11, hitting all five of her shots, while Northwestern had 18 assists on 26 baskets and shot a season-best 62 percent.
But it was just as much defense, especially in the closing minutes, that triggered the victory. NSU held ORU to 42 percent shooting, just 38 percent in the second half, and outrebounded the taller visitors 30-22. The Lady Demons allowed only one basket in the final 4:50.
“We switched to a zone at the last media timeout (3:49 to go) and the girls did a really nice job with it. On the other end, we made some big shots and played smartly when we got the lead,” said co-head coach Brooke Stoehr. “Fortunately we shot very well throughout the game. We needed to shoot 62 percent to overcome our turnovers (19) and how they took advantage of them (scoring 24 points).”
Perez nailed a 3-pointer to push NSU ahead to stay, 62-61 with 4:38 remaining. The freshman point guard may have hit another with 3:15 remaining, but officials needed to review and could not confirm she was behind the 3-point arc, with the basket giving the Lady Demons a 64-61 edge.
ORU’s senior stalwart Kevi Luper answered, driving the lane for a bucket 24 seconds later to cut the spread to one. The teams traded misses before Lee rolled in her 3-pointer with 87 seconds to go for a 67-63 advantage, and neither team scored again.
Luper, the three-time Summit League Player of the Year, led ORU with 19 points. Jaci Bingham added 16, all but two in the first half.
ORU missed their final four shots and turned the ball over twice in the game’s final four minutes to suffer their fourth conference loss of the season.
NSU will take on another of the teams with a winning mark in conference play, Central Arkansas (13-9, 6-5), Saturday afternoon at 1 in Prather Coliseum.