Northwestern State Returns to Southland Championship

first_img“Our defensive effort in the second half was tremendous,” said Stoehr. “It’s just about this team’s will to compete and their refusal to lose.” Lamar would draw to within 66-64 on JaMeisha Edwards’ triple with nine seconds left in overtime, yet would draw no closer. “My role is to attack, and Lamar plays man-to-man pressure defense,” said Attura. “With all the openings at the top, it spreads them out, so (I) just tried to attack.” “I thought down the stretch, we had some winning moments that really sealed the deal for us,” said Northwestern State co-coach Brooke Stoehr, whose team will bid for the program’s fourth Southland Conference championship. Lamar, which had shot 50 percent from the field en route to taking a 39-30 halftime lead, was unable to find any offensive consistency. After shooting 39 percent from 3-point range in the first half, the Lady Cardinals were 4-for-18 (22 percent) in the final 25 minutes. The sixth-seeded Lady Demons overcame a 12-point second half deficit behind a career-high 26 points off the bench from Beatrice Attura as the defending Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament champions outlasted second-seed Lamar 70-64 in overtime Saturday afternoon at Merrell Center, earning a date against eighth-seed Houston Baptist University in Sunday’s title game. The Lady Demons trailed 46-32 with 16:55 left before embarking on the road toward their ninth victory of the season when down at the half. While Attura and all-conference first-team guard Janelle Perez (24 points, six assists) provided the bulk of the offensive spark, it was the play of forwards Presley Owens, Tia Youngblood and seldom-used Ndey Sonko who delivered on defense, where the Lady Cardinals (17-13) shot just 25 percent from the field after intermission. “We had an opportunity to win the game,” said Kiandra Bowers, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds, “but we let the game slip away. We couldn’t control our own destiny.” Despite the shooting woes, Lamar took a 58-56 lead when Dominique Edwards hit a pair of free throws with 28 seconds left in regulation, but Keisha Lee scored her only two points of the game with two from the charity stripe with 12 seconds left. The Lady Cardinals had a chance to win, yet were denied when Attura stole the ball with under a second remaining. BOX SCORE  |  PHOTO GALLERY  |  HIGHLIGHTS  |  REPLAY  |  BRACKET  |  TOURNAMENT CENTRALKATY, Texas – Northwestern State is 40 minutes away from dancing once again. By defeating the Lady Cardinals in the semifinals for the second straight year, the Lady Demons (18-14) became the first sixth seed in conference tournament history to reach the finals, setting up an unprecedented showdown with the Huskies for the right to receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Attura scored nine of Northwestern State’s final 10 points, including a 3-pointer that gave the Lady Demons a 62-60 lead they would not relinquish with 3:02 remaining in the extra session. The sophomore completed the comeback by converting a pair of free throws following an intentional foul before driving in for a layup in the final four seconds. The Lady Demons also did a great job of limiting the production of the Lady Cardinals’ all-conference duo in first-teamer JaMeisha Edwards and third-teamer Dominique Edwards. The two, who combined for 28.2 points per game in the regular season, were held to just 13 on a combined 4 for 19 shooting. “We got into a situation where we couldn’t score,” said Lamar coach Robin Harmony. “We got tentative. They were pressuring our shooters and our shooters had shots. They just couldn’t knock them down.” POSTGAME QUOTESNorthwestern StateCo-Head Coach Brooke StoehrOpening Statement…“What a ball game. I think you have to give both teams a lot of credit. Both teams fought their hearts out. In the postseason and a game like this, sometimes it comes down to one or two plays. We talk about that through the year, those winnings moments. I thought down the stretch we had some winning moments that really sealed the deal for us. You have to give Lamar credit. They’ve had a tremendous season and they played their hearts out today. Robin [Harmony] and her staff do a great job. I’m extremely proud to stay another day. Our defensive effort in the second half was tremendous. It was about this team’s commitment to compete and their refusal to lose.”On the team’s game plan…“I thought [Lamar’s Kiandra] Bowers really hurt us in the first half. She got some paint touches really deep inside and Presley [Owens] couldn’t do much other than go straight up and avoid the foul. We talked about providing a little help and digging from our guards. They shoot the 3 so well. We really did a great shot of forcing Bowers outside of the paint.”Junior Guard Janelle PerezOn the team’s second-half comeback…“Coach came in at halftime and told us she feels better about us being down by nine at the half than up by nine. We’ve been in that position before. We practice being in close situations. I think our experience has helped us down the stretch. Some players got some big shots and we got stops that we needed and execute on the other end and that’s what we did.”Sophomore Guard Beatrice AtturaOn her offense…“My role is to attack. Lamar plays a man-to-man pressure defense and the lane is open. With the type of offense we run, it spreads them out. I just tried to attack and it worked well for me today.”Head Coach Robin HarmonyOpening Statement…“We were up by 16 at one point and I think we played really good basketball up until then. We got to a situation where we couldn’t score and we got tentative. They were pressuring our shooters. Our shooters had shots, they just didn’t put them down. Kiandra [Bowers] was unstoppable and had a great game. She really came through for us. We’re disappointed. We’ve played the same team twice with the same situation, losing to them in the semifinals. I don’t know if it’s a mental thing or if we can’t finish. We’re going to have to get better and get better players so we can come through and get the job done because we didn’t do it again.”On Northwestern State’s Janelle Perez…“Janell Perez is a great player. She’s their engine and everything they needed a big bucket they found a big bucket and we didn’t. We’re sitting here in the same situation packing our bags to go home.”last_img

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