LAKE CHARLES – The McNeese Cowgirls’ inconsistent play at key moments in the game was too much to overcome in an 89-73 loss to Northwestern State Saturday afternoon in Southland Conference action.
The loss dropped the Cowgirls to 5-16 overall and 3-7 in league player while NSU improved to 8-14 and 3-8 and swept the season series.
Regan Bolton had a big hand in keeping the Cowgirls competitive for much of the game as she sank a game-high 24 points behind five three-pointers. Callie Maddox added 17. But 24 turnovers committed by the Cowgirls led to 21 NSU points while the Lady Demons outscored the Cowgirls 49-7 from the bench players.
“I thought out kids battled and did what we needed to get back into the game,” said head coach Kacie Cryer. “We just didn’t get that stop or make those plays on defense by either them hitting some big shots or we bailed them out by sending them to the free throw line.”
It was a pretty tight game in the first quarter with NSU holding a lead from the start but was never able to extend it out past five points.
After trailing 16-13 after the first period, the Cowgirls took their first lead of the game on a Bolton 3 to make it 18-17 at the 8:40 mark of the second half. NSU then capitalized on three Cowgirl turnovers by scoring seven points off those miscues to help it put together an 11-0 run and go up 28-18 with 6:45 to play in the half.
McNeese would trim it back down to 3 points following another Bolton three with 3:08 to play to make it a 29-26 game. NSU went back up by double-digits off a Leah Barnes layup with 10 seconds to play to make it 39-29, but Bolton knocked down two free throws with one second remaining to put McNeese to within 39-31 at the break.
The Cowgirls started the second half on fire, hitting their first three shots while forcing NSU into three consecutive turnovers as the Cowgirls tied the game 39-39 with 8:12 to play in the quarter.
But once again, the Lady Demons used a tight defense to helped force three more McNeese turnovers and NSU took a 47-39 advantage following a Libba Gilliam threepointer with 6:00 to play.
Maddox followed that 8-0 NSU run with back-to-back 3-pointers to pull McNeese to within 2, but NSU’s Gabby Bell responded quickly with a three of her own to extend the lead back to 5 at 50-45 with 5:06 to play in the third.
Two minutes later, Gilliam would hit another 3 for the Lady Demons to put them up 55-47. McNeese’s Kaylee Hughes cut the lead to 55-50 with a three-pointer and three minutes later, Maddox cut the deficit to 59-58 on a jumper with 1:23 to play in the third.
NSU’s Kira Bonner hurled the dagger though, as her three-pointer at the buzzer gave the Lady Demons a 64-58 advantage and a 5-0 run to end the third quarter.
That momentum carried over into the final stanza as NSU scored five-straight to extend its run to 10-0, and led 69-58 following a Bonner three-pointer with 9:06 to play.
McNeese was able to get the deficit down to single digits just three more times, and none closer than eight points, and the Lady Demons closed out the final four minutes on a 12-4 run.
Five NSU players scored in double-digits with Bonner leading the way with 17 points. Nautica Grant and Leah Barnes added 15 each, RaVon Nero scored 13, and Gilliam added 10.
NSU connected on 56.6 percent (30 of 53) from the field while the Cowgirls hit 46 percent (23 of 50).
McNeese will return to action on Wednesday night when it hosts Stephen F. Austin at 6:30. The Ladyjacks will coming into the H&HP Complex with a perfect 10-0 league record.