The Lady Demons (6-10 overall, 2-4 in the Southland) ended a four-game skid while stunning the Lady Colonels (11-5, 3-2), who are the league’s top-ranked team in the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index.
Northwestern trailed 24-9, climbed back within 30-27 at halftime, but didn’t take the lead until a three-point play by Lee with 4:14 remaining made it 53-52. The Lady Demons outscored Nicholls 23-6 in the final 8:12 with Lee scoring 11 in the decisive run.
In the last 1:28, Northwestern padded a four-point edge by making its final eight free throws, six straight by freshman point guard Janelle Perez and the final two from Lee. Perez posted 14 points as the Lady Demons scored their second come-from-behind homecourt win over a league title contender, having beaten two-time defending champion McNeese 64-62 two weeks earlier on a Perez 3-pointer with four seconds left after overcoming an 11-point deficit.
Two statistical keys were the Lady Demons’ 42-25 rebounding advantage, and 54.5 percent second-half shooting by Northwestern while holding Nicholls to 31 percent before 1,101 at Prather Coliseum.
“Our team believes we can beat anyone in our conference if we do things well enough,” said first-year co-head coach Brooke Stoehr. “We shut down their transition game in the second half and made them earn everything in the halfcourt game. We rebounded strongly and kept them from getting second-chance points.
“Nicholls has a really good team with a very strong inside-outside combination with Alisha Allen (13 points) and KK Babin (11 points, eight assists). We were able to keep the tempo at the pace we needed and we did play very solid basketball closing out the game. I’m very proud of our team.”
Sophomore guard Arianne Ausmer snagged a game-high 12 rebounds. Senior center Jasmine Upchurch scored all nine of her points after halftime and added four steals and two blocked shots.
The Lady Demons finished with 48 percent shooting aim, a season’s best and 11 percent above their season’s average.
Northwestern equaled last season’s win total with the victory. The Lady Demons will aim for their first conference win streak in two seasons Saturday afternoon at 1 when NSU plays host to Southeastern Louisiana.