NATCHIOTCHES – Keisha Lee's second-straight career night with 23 points and efficient ball handling by the Northwestern State women's basketball team led to a 64-55 win over Southeastern Louisiana Saturday in Southland Conference action.
NSU (7-10, 3-4) turned the ball over only five times against the Lady Lions (7-10, 0-6) and earned its first conference win streak in two seasons. Those five turnovers are the fewest in the Southland Conference this season, matched only by McNeese and Nicholls, and fewest for the Lady Demons in 111 games.
"We did not shoot the basketball well, but we only had five turnovers and that might be the most beautiful stat I've seen all year from this group," said first-year-co-head coach Brooke Stoehr. "I'm really proud of how they valued the basketball"
The Lady Demons shot only 34 percent, the lowest since conference play opened, but were able to keep the lead by taking care of the ball and only allowing four points off of turnovers. Opponents averaged 17.9 points off of turnovers per contest going into the game.
The Lady Demons sank 80 percent (20-25) of its free throws, registering the second-highest totals of attempts and makes this season.
Northwestern State took control with a 17-2 run over almost nine minutes midway through the first half, erasing a quick 11-2 deficit. A layup before the halftime buzzer by Jasmine Upchurch gave the Lady Demons their biggest first-half lead, 29-20, and their first halftime advantage in seven games and only the third of the season.
The margin was as big as 13 afterward. Southeastern scrapped back within 56-53 with 1:44 to go, but Upchurch sank two free throws 24 seconds later and Janelle Perez made three of four in the next half-minute to make it 61-53 with 30 seconds left, securing the outcome.
Lee bested her career mark for the second straight game with her 23 points. She also had seven rebounds, two steals, and one assist on the game.
"Keisha might have been more tentative in the early part of the season," said Stoehr. "She has gained some confidence, and she knows we've given her the green light to take some shots."
Perez and Upchurch both scored in double-digits as well. Perez finished with 18, three short of her career high, and Upchurch scored 13 and grabbed nine boards barely missing her third double-double on the season.
"I think for a point guard of Janelle's size, she did a good job getting our team into the right look offensively," said Stoehr. "She valued the basketball and knocked down some big shots for us.
"Jasmine (Upchurch) is a big key for what we try to do offensively," she said. "She didn't have a great shooting night, but she battled and had nine boards."
SLU shot 42 percent behind their two leading scorers Aja Gibson and Brandi Simmons who both scored 12. Simmons completed the double-double with game-high 13 rebounds.
The Lady Lions turned the ball over 13 times, and the Lady Demons were able to capitalize for 15 points.
NSU will wrap up its' three game home stand next Saturday afternoon at 8 o'clock in Prather Coliseum as old rival Stephen F. Austin visits