NSU Lady Demons hold off Nicholls

THIBODAUX – Jessica McPhail scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds while Jordi James sank a season-high 24 points for Northwestern State, but it was the crucial play of freshman Jasmine Bradley in the last 1:13 of the game that helped lead the way in a 70-67 Southland Conference women's basketball win over Nicholls on Wednesday night.

After blowing a 16-point lead with 10:05 to play in the game, Northwestern (7-8, 2-0 SLC) was held without a field goal for the next 9:16 while Nicholls (5-10, 0-2) clawed its way back into the game and tied the contest at 67-67 with 2:05 to play.

Brittiany Houston, who finished with 14 points, would then be sent to the free throw line for a 1-and-1 chance with 1:13 left, missed, and Bradley would come up with the offensive rebound, and after a missed NSU shot with 1:01 to play, Bradley came up with another offensive board that led to a James layup with 47 seconds remaining to give the Lady Demons a 69-67 lead.

But Bradley wouldn't be done.

The Lady Colonels possessed the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead with 36 seconds remaining when Bradley stepped in front of a lane-driving Alisha Allen and took a charge to give NSU the ball back as Houston sank one of two free throws with 19 seconds left to make it 70-67.

Ricshanda Bickham's three-point attempt with four seconds left hit off the side of the backboard as NSU's Ronikka Drake come up with the rebound and ran out the final three seconds for the win.

The two teams were running and gunning for most of the game and traded off baskets through the first five minutes of the contest before the Lady demons opened up a 21-19 lead into a 14 point advantage at 37-23 with 3:29 to play in the half.

Meredith Graf sank a jumper to halt a brief Nicholls run and after McPhail sank a 10-footer with 47 seconds remaining, Houston knocked down a desperation 30-footer at the buzzer to give the Lady Demons a 44-30 lead at the break.

After sinking 51.5 percent of its shots in the first half, Northwestern State was scaled back to 10 of 29 shooting (34.5 percent) in the second half and finished 43.5 percent for the game.  The Lady Demons also knocked down 8 of 22 from 3-point range as Houston drained 3 of 7.

The Lady Demons outrebounded the Lady Colonels by a 47-41 margin and allowed just 13 second chance points in the game.

Nicholls was led in scoring by Sumar Leslie's 18 points followed by Bickham with 16 and Cassie Hearson 11.

The Lady Colonels made just 37 percent from the field (27 of 73) and made just 7 of 33 from 3-point range for 21.2 percent.

Northwestern State will be looking to go 3-0 for the first time under Jennifer Graf and since the 2003-04 championship season when it hosts Central Arkansas at 2 on Saturday in Prather Coliseum.

(Courtesy: Northwestern St. Athletics Department)