Scores

Final

Sam Houston 87

(22-9, 11-5 Southland)

Northwestern St 95

(25-7, 15-1 Southland)

2:00 PM ET, March 12, 2006

Prather Coliseum, Natchitoches, Louisiana

1 2 T
SHSU 37 5087
NWST 48 4795

Top Performers

Sam Houston State: R. Bright 17 Pts, 9 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 Blk

Northwestern State: C. Lee 22 Pts, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Northwestern St. rolls over Bearkats, claims Southland bid

NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) -- Northwestern State made up for last year's disappointment in the Southland Conference tournament championship game Sunday with a 95-87 victory over Sam Houston State.

Now the Demons have a new goal.

Last season, the Demons lost in the conference finals to Southeastern Louisiana on their home court. Sunday's win gave Northwestern State (25-7), the Southland Conference regular season champion, its first trip to the NCAA tournament in five years. The 14th-seeded Demons face third-seeded Iowa in the first round.

"We are in the NCAA tournament to win a game. We're not satisfied with just getting there," Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said. "This is a great opportunity, but we want to continue. We have work to do."

The largest crowd for a basketball game in Northwestern State history (3,930) watched the Demons build a 13-point lead midway through the second half and then hold on in the final minutes.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Chris Jordan cut a nine-point Northwestern State lead to 86-83 with 2:08 to play. The Bearkats (22-9) had a chance to tie the game, but Jejuan Plair missed a 3-point shot with 1:59 to play.

"We had a lot of confidence that we would be able to pull the game out in the last two minutes," Sam Houston coach Bob Marlin said. "We have won games like this all year, but Northwestern State is a team with a lot of experience."

Clifton Lee, who finished with 22 points, made two free throws to increase the lead to 88-83 and Plair countered with his fifth 3-pointer of the game, getting Sam Houston within 88-86 with 1:42 to play.

Luke Rogers made two free throws with 1:11 to play and Lee added another to get the lead to 91-86 with 48 seconds to play. Sam Houston missed its final three field goal attempts and had two turnovers in the last 50 seconds.

Plair finished with 23 points, while Ryan Bright and John Gardiner each had 17 for Sam Houston.

Jermaine Wallace had 16 points for the Demons, while Tyronn Mitchell and Kerwin Forges each added 13.

"This team has come a long way," Wallace said. "Three years ago, we were all freshmen and went 6-21 and not many people were paying attention to us. But we stuck together as a team and have become like brothers."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
SHSU
NWST
Points 87 95
FG Made-Attempted 30-66 (.455) 32-64 (.500)
3P Made-Attempted 12-25 (.480) 8-22 (.364)
FT Made-Attempted 15-20 (.750) 23-27 (.852)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 16 (0/0)
Largest Lead 2 16

2005-06 Season

DATEGAMELINKS
Jan 14, 2006 @SHSU 80, NWST 73Recap
Feb 2, 2006 @NWST 77, SHSU 68Recap
» Mar 12, 2006 @NWST 95, SHSU 87Recap