Hulbin tipped in what would have been a game-winner, but an obvious, and ultimately ruled inadvertent, whistle by a game official negated the basket. After three looks at the review monitor, officials gave NSU the ball underneath the Demons' basket with 1.2 seconds put back on the clock.
Louis Ellis tried to inbound the ball, but called timeout when he didn't find an open teammate. After going to their bench, NSU came out with a different plan as Ellis looked into the near corner, where Davis cut off a pair of picks by Gary Stewart and William Mosley, took the inbounds pass and drained a 3-pointer in front of the Demons bench to win the see-saw game.
"They had the middle jammed up and we couldn't get the entry pass, so we called time out and (assistant) coach (Bill) Lewit drew up a play with a pick, and Shamir rubbed off it perfectly and knocked down the shot," said Mike McConathy, the Demons' 13th-year coach.
Northwestern (10-9 overall, 3-2 in the Southland) led by 14 in each half, but McNeese rallied to open a 59-53 lead with 6:08 remaining. In a two-minute span, Mosley scored the last six of his team-high 16 points on a short jumper, two free throws and a transition dunk after rebounding at the other end to tie the game 59-59 with two minutes left.
McNeese (7-10, 3-2) went up on a Patrick Richard basket, but Davis hit a driving layup with 1:15 to go to tie it at 61- all. Richard drove the lane with 40 seconds left but NSU forced McNeese's 24th turnover, knocking the ball out of bounds and giving the visitors the ball with a last-second chance to win.
Mosley had 6 rebounds, with the third making him only the third player in school history to snag 1,000 in a career. He added 4 steals and 3 blocks while going 6-6 from the floor. Davis finished with 13 points while Ellis had 10.
Richard led all scorers with 28, 19 while leading McNeese's second-half rally. The Demons gathered themselves to recover down the stretch, outscoring the Cowboys 11-2 over the final four minutes.
"We got some stops defensively, and were able to get some transition baskets out of our defense. We also got the ball entered inside to Mosley after not doing that for most of the second half," said McConathy. "He wants the ball now. He's our yeoman. Part of the problem against zones is we're not getting it into him. When we did today we were a better team."
The outcome snapped a two-game skid by the Demons heading into a pair of home games next Wednesday night against Lamar and next Saturday against Southeastern Louisiana, two East Division foes. NSU moved into a tie for the East Division lead with the win.
"It's big. We go from 2-0 to 2-2, and now we're 3-2 and back on top on our side, after a tough loss at San Antonio and one we let slip away (wasting a 17-point second-half lead against Central Arkansas). It felt like we were on a hump the last few days and now we're on the right side of it," said McConathy.
After seemingly having won the game on Hulbin's tip-in, only to have the officials huddle and repeatedly review the game tape without explaining what they were looking for, McConathy was hopeful but nervous during the stoppage.
"I was hoping for a foul, because he blew the whistle and started to raise his hand. But once they finally sorted out the situation, it came down to making our decision how to score, and our young men had to execute it. Louis Ellis calling time out on our first inbounds attempt was a smart and game-winning play, just like James Hulbin made what should have been a game-winning tip-in that didn't count," said McConathy.
"We lost one in pretty bizarre fashion earlier this year on a banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer in double overtime up at Louisiana Tech, and we won one in a pretty odd way today," he said. "Our guys showed some toughness in making the plays to win - twice."