Northwestern State got a welcome win behind balanced scoring Thursday night, with five Lady Demons in double digits offsetting a sensational 3-point shooting performance by Incarnate Word freshman Natalie Hessong in a 72-66 homecourt win for NSU.
The Lady Demons (11-9 overall, 4-4 in the Southland) led nearly the entire game and by as many as 16 in the first half and 15 down the stretch, but could not put away the Cardinals (8-11, 2-5) before 1,031 at Prather Coliseum. Hessong, who had a school-record eight 3-pointers in a November non-conference game, sank 7 of 9 from behind the arc in a 23-point outing, playing just 19 minutes. She fueled UIW's comeback bid with 17 second-half points, including sinking all five of her 3-point tries.
Northwestern, going to 7-1 on its own court, got 14 points from sophomore guard Keisha Lee, 13 by senior forward Trudy Armstead, and 11 points and six assists by sophomore point guard Janelle Perez. Junior guard Chelsea Rogers also scored 11 while freshman guard Beatrice Attura pitched in 10 and freshman post player Kourtney Pennywell snagged 10 rebounds and scored seven points.
"We got a win, and we needed one. It wasn't pretty, it certainly wasn't easy, but we did have a couple of players step forward and make plays we needed to get it done," said Lady Demon co-head coach Brooke Stoehr, whose team snapped a skid after averaging only 56 points in a pair of road losses last week.
Northwestern got five points by Attura and Lee while running off 12 unanswered over four minutes to open a 30-14 lead 6:08 before halftime. UIW closed the gap to 34-26 at the break, and then posted seven straight points in a two-minute burst that brought the Cardinals within three, 38-35. NSU's edge wavered between 3-8 points until two Rogers treys in a minute's span keyed a surge into a 59-44 advantage with 5:22 to go.
Then Hessong drained two straight 3-pointers to keep UIW in range, and she added two more in a 10-second spurt in the final 90 seconds that allowed the visitors to hang in there. The Lady Demons hit nine of 10 free throws in the last 1:17, with Armstead going 5-of-6, to hold on.
"We did not do the things we needed to defend her effectively. She shot it extremely well, especially in the second half," said Stoehr. "We fouled too much (21 times) and didn't defend well enough, but hopefully we can learn from this and be better when we hit the court Saturday."
Northwestern State returned back it 40 percent range from the field with 24 made shots on 58 attempts. It was also 8-of-17 from the 3-point range.
Incarnate Word finished the game at 45 percent (22-48) and 10-of-18 from behind the arc.
For the third-straight game, NSU outrebounded its opponent. The Lady Demons had 37 rebounds Thursday night, three more than the Cardinals.
The Lady Demons used turnovers to jet out to a 16-point lead with 6:08 to play in the first half- NSU scored 17 points from the nine Cardinal miscues. UIW finished the game with 17 turnovers that gave Northwestern State 22 points.
Northwestern State coughed up the ball 11 times to give UIW 15 points.
The Lady Demons take on Abilene Christian (12-9, 3-3), an 80-59 loser Thursday at Stephen F. Austin, Saturday afternoon at 1 as NSU's four-game homestand continues.
Release provided by the sports information department at Northwestern State University.