Trudy Armstead's 12 points and 13 rebounds led her to be honored as the tournament most valuable player, NSU's (21-12) third, along with Janelle Perez, who was named to the all-tournament team. Perez had 10 points and four assists in the game. Armstead averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds in the tournament, and Perez averaged 10.6 points and four assists.
"I couldn't be more proud and happier for my players," said co-head coach Brooke Stoehr, who with her husband Scott led the Lady Demons to a Southland Conference championship in their second season. "What they are about to experience and what they are going through right now makes me so happy."
The win marks NSU's third NCAA Tournament appearance, first since the 2003-04 season, and seventh postseason tournament appearance in Lady Demon program history. NSU was an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament in 1989 and appeared in the WNIT in 1986, 1993, 1995, and 1999.
"I didn't think after yesterday it could get more exciting," said Stoehr. "I think we topped that today."
Northwestern State advanced to the finals on Perez's last second shot that fell through with 2.4 seconds left to play to give NSU the go-ahead points and win.
"Our hats go off to Brandon (Schnieder, SFA head coach) and his staff," said Stoehr. "Scott and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the job that they do.
"Our team did some things today that took them out of a rhythm offensively. We were able to go down and execute on the offensive ourselves," she said. "We knocked down some key shots, and were able to sustain some runs. I could not be more proud of the ladies in that locker room.
Northwestern State held the lead for the last 32 minutes of the contest, and almost 38 minutes the entire game. Stephen F. Austin (20-12) scored the game's first points on a layup and eventually took the lead back with 12:43 to play in first half before Perez drained a 3-pointer to grab it back.
Perez's shot in the championship game sparked an eight-point run that gave the Lady Demons a 17-10 lead at the 10:18 mark in the first half. They were able to increase the lead to 10 (28-18) with under four minutes to go in the opening half, and went into the break with a 31-22 lead.
NSU survived an early second half run from SFA that helped the Ladyjacks get within four points, but that was the closest that Stephen F. Austin would get. During the run, the Lady Demons were 0-of-4 from the field and had three turnovers.
Armstead ended the run with a layup at the 15:27 mark to play, and Chelsea Rogers drained a 3-pointer to push it back to an eight-point lead with 12:40 left. Brentney Branch hit a 3-pointer, and Rogers answered that with back-to-back 3-pointers that gave NSU a double-digit lead (41-30) for the first time since the first half.
From there, NSU outscored the Ladyjacks 21-12 grab a 20-point lead with 38 seconds left to play before SFA added two more points to push the score final.
"I've never been around a group of young ladies, tremendous young ladies, that just believe in each other and believe in what we say," said Stoher. "There is just something special about them. I think that above all else, character counts. Sometimes that gets overshadowed, but in moment like this it is put out in the forefront."
Northwestern State shot 45 percent from the floor, 52 percent rom in the second half alone. It held Stephen F. Austin to 32 percent in the game and 28 percent from the field in the second half. The Lady Demons capitalized on turnovers with 23 points from 16 Ladyjack miscues. NSU had only nine turnovers and 14 assists in the game.
Chelsea Rogers scored 16 points in the game and freshman scored nine points. Keisha Lee had eight points, Beatrice Attura, and Robin Richardson had two. Lee had six rebounds followed by three from Pennywell, two from Rogers and Perez, and one from Owens and Attura.
First-team all-conference player Porsha Roberts had 14 points for SFA and Kali Jerrell had 13. Roberts tied Armstead for the team lead in rebounds.
"From where we were two years ago, this is an unbelievable feeling. I don't think any of us can really put it into context until later down the road, but I think it start with Meredith and Trudy," said Stoehr.