Box Score NATCHITOCHES - Senior Jasmine Upchurch led the way for the Northwestern State women's basketball team as it took down Southland Conference leader Sam Houston State 59-50 on Saturday's Senior Day in Prather Coliseum.
Upchurch finished with a game-high 22 points while freshman Keshia Lee added 15 points to improve NSU's record to 12-17 overall and 7-11 in SLC action. Janelle Perez also scored in double figures, putting up 11 points.
"The last four years have given me some great memories," said Upchurch when asked about her last home game. "I am excited about the tournament next week and I know we will all play our hardest."
Sequeena Thomas led the Bearkats (17-13, 13-5 SLC) with a double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds.
"I think our energy, intensity and effort were outstanding today," said Lady Demon co-head coach Brooke Stoehr. "I think it started with Jasmine Upchurch and you never know how kids are going to respond, especially on Senior Day. I thought her energy was great and I think our team really fed off of that."
The Lady Demons hit 46 percent of their shots for the game and were a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
NSU turned the ball over just 10 times, the second lowest of the season, while forcing 13 SHSU turnovers.
The Bearkats held a an early six point lead at the 13:52 mark in the first half but the Lady Demons battled back, going on a 9-3 run in the last nine minutes and heading into the locker room with a 26-24 lead.
"Sam Houston came our and brought it right at us," said Stoehr. "Thomas had 15 points at the half and she was really attacking. I felt like we answered that and continued to execute."
"I think the last two minutes of the first half and first three to five minutes of the second half was some of the best basketball I've this team play and it all started with their mindset."
NSU came out on fire in the second half, surging to a 10-point lead by the 14:53 mark.
Sam Houston trimmed the lead to single digits on several occasions but the Lady Demons would not give in and led by 16 with five minutes remaining.
The Bearkats were able to cut into the deficit in the last three minutes but it proved not enough as a series of free throws sealed the win for NSU.
Perez led the Lady Demons in assists with five while Jasmine Bradley grabbed a team-high six rebounds.
"A win like this certainly doesn't hurt before we head into the tournament," said Stoehr. "We have beaten five out of the top six teams at home and we feel really good about being able to compete here in this environment.
"Our fans have been tremendous and I think this allows us to springboard into the tournament on a good note."
Northwestern State travels to Katy, Texas to compete in the Southland Conference Tournament on Wednesday. The eighth seeded Lady Demons will take on No. 5 McNeese State at 11 a.m. at the Merrell Center.