NATCHITOCHES, LA (KPLC) - A layup by Cecilia Okoye with 2.6 seconds to play gave McNeese a thrilling 59-57 Southland Conference win over Northwestern State here Thursday. The win lifts the Cowgirls to 13-8 overall and 6-4 in the SLC. The loss drops Northwestern State to 11-10 overall and 5-5 in the SLC.
McNeese's top two scorers (Allison Baggett and Okoye) were both held scoreless in the first half but both made big shots late in the game when the Cowgirls needed them. Okoye ended the game with six points in the final four minutes of the game but none was no bigger than the last two. Okoye also contributed on the boards as she grabbed a game high 11 rebounds.
Baggett ended the game with nine points with three coming from a huge three-pointer with 10:50 left in the game to tie the game at 37. That trey was her first points of the game. She hit a jumper with 8:08 left to cut the Lady Demon lead to 43-42 and then gave the Cowgirls a 46-45 lead on another jumper with 6:10 left.
McNeese held its largest lead of the game of six points with 4:16 left to play but back-to-back three-pointers by Northwestern State's Chelsea Rogers tied the game at 51 with 2:46 left. Both teams traded baskets and the game would once again be tied at 57 on two free throws by Janelle Perez with :18 left setting up the game winning basket by Okoye.
McNeese was led in scoring by freshman Victoria Rachal, a Natchitoches native who scored 11 points. Rachal also grabbed a career high six rebounds.
McNeese ended the game with a 39.1 field goal percent (25-64) and attempted only two free throws. The Cowgirls dominated the boards by outrebounding the Lady Demons 46-32. McNeese's bench also outscored the Lady Demons 23-12 and scored 12 second chance points.
McNeese scored the first points of the game on a 3-pointer by Ambers Donnes.
Northwestern State went on a run to outscore the Cowgirls 12-4 in the next 11 minutes to take a 12-7 lead with 9:14 left in the half. Rachal, then took things into her own hands and ignited a Cowgirl comeback. Rachal hit a jumper and then nailed a three-pointer to cut the NW State lead to one point (13-12).
after a Northwestern State layup, Hannah Cupit hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 15 all. The Lady Demons scored the next four points to take a 19-15 lead. Donnes would nail her second trey of the game to cut the lead to one point again and Talisa Boyd made a layup off a Rachal pass to give the Cowgirls their first lead of the game (20-19) with 2:22 left.
Northwestern State tied the game at 20 when Meredith Graf made one of two free throws. A layup by Arianna James off a NW State turnover gave the Cowgirls the lead again at 22-20 and that would end up being the halftime score.