“I’m really proud at the way they competed,” NSU co-head coach Brooke Stoehr said. “I felt like with the differential on the rebounding end that we had to value the basketball and get a shot every time.”
Led by Keisha Lee’s career-high 28 points, the Lady Demons got their first win over a team from a “Power Six” conference since a 65-59 victory over Texas A&M to open the 1992-93 season.
“I think any time you get a win, it builds confidence, especially for a young team that doesn’t have a ton of experience,” Stoehr said. “It gives us momentum as we go forward. We have a lot to work on and get better at, but I think that’s the exciting thing for us. We know how much growth there is to be done.”
Lee scored NSU’s first eight points to help the Lady Demons race out to an 8-2 lead with 14:39 left in the first half.
The Lady Demons’ lead swelled to 11 twice within the following four minutes as they led 20-9 at the 10:53 mark in the half.
Relying heavily on its bench for a spark, the Cougars eventually chipped away at lead. A 16-6 run got Houston to within a point of the lead, however the Lady Demons would never surrender their advantage.
NSU (2-0) pushed its lead to eight points following a Breanna Fuller layup, but Jessieka Palmer hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the first half to make the score 40-35 in the Lady Demons’ favor at halftime.
Lee led all scorers with 21 points at the half as the Lady Demons were able to score 16 points off of 10 first-half Houston turnovers.
“I just wanted to be sufficient enough for my team and myself so we can get on this winning streak,” Lee said. “It’s different than last year, because it’s a new beginning for us.”
The second half began with Northwestern State attempting to get some separation on the Cougars---jumping ahead 47-39 with 16:55 left in the game.
Houston (0-2) would not go away though. Trailing 55-50 at the 12:27 mark, a 7-1 run allowed the Cougars to take their first lead of the night following a long-range shot by Palmer.
Houston’s lone lead would only last 32 seconds, as the Lady Demons regained control thanks to nine unanswered points to take a 65-57 advantage.
NSU held on the stretch and did not the let the Cougars get within three points for the final four minutes.
“We just executed and tried to make them defend,” Stoehr said. “We got some good stops in the second half. I thought when we went to our man defense, we had some kids that really stepped up for us.”
Houston’s Tyler Gilbert recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds off of the bench, but 17 Cougar turnovers crushed any chance at a win.
Trudy Armstead scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Janelle Perez added in 10 points and dished five assists.
“I’m proud of the team’s effort and their fight,” Stoehr said. “I’m excited for our fans. In this community, they deserve that.”
Northwestern State will get a chance to rest before competing in the Athletes in Action Classic in Waco, Texas Nov. 21-23.