A second-half surge propelled the McNeese State Cowgirls to their first Southland Conference win of the season, a 61-51 victory over Northwestern State, snapping a four-game losing streak.
The Cowgirls (4-10, 1-4 SLC) closed the third quarter with a 16-2 run to take an eight-point lead then held the Demons to eight points in the fourth quarter to close out the game.
Regan Bolton scored 19 points to lead McNeese. Bre'Ashlee Jones added 15 and Damilola Balogun had 10 points and 19 rebounds for her third consecutive double-double.
"Today we knew we were going to start our journey at 1-0 and just take them one game at a time," Bolton said.
The teams played a close first half, with neither team leading by more than six points. The Demons (4-11, 1-5) took a 31-28 lead at the half.
Bolton got McNeese going in the third quarter, scoring the team's first eight points on a pair of 3-pointers and two free throws. Northwestern State answered with eight straight points to take a 41-36 lead, but McNeese dominated the rest of the quarter.
Balogun started the 16-2 run to end the quarter with a basket. Shaela Gardner made a 3-pointer to tie the score at 41 and Jones gave the Cowgirls the lead for good with a pair of free throws. Another Bolton three, a three-point play by Jones and buzzer-beating runner by Kyla Hamilton gave the Cowgirls a 52-43 lead at the end of the quarter.
Northwestern State got within six midway through the fourth, but the Cowgirls ended the game with an 8-2 run, with Hamilton feeding Gardner for a layup and adding a 3-pointer with just over a minute left.
"I'm just so proud of this group of girls; nobody works harder," Cowgirls head coach Kacie Cryer said. "We knew that Northwestern was going to come out and press us, try to be physical with us We did a tremendous job against the press. It was a grind in the fourth quarter, neither of us could score, but we got big stops and rebounds, we did whatever it took."
Hamilton and Gardner combined for 12 points and seven assists off the bench.
"Shaela came in and gave us some good minutes, hit a 3 when we needed it, hit a big layup and played great defense," Gardner said.
"Every game somebody different has to step up," Cryer said. "Last game it was Lizzy Ratliff. It's next man up. It was a total team effort. I am so proud of Kyla and Shaela and Jahquell Robinsonl gave us good minutes as well."
Kira Bonner led Northwestern State with 11 points.
"We had 21 missed layups in the game, and we lose by 10," said Demons head coach Jordan Dupuy, whose team is winless in six road games and has lost seven of its last eight games. "If you make a third of those and we win the game. We've got to make shots right at the rim. We didn't and they did. It's our job as coaches to get them those looks and their job as players to finish them."