Janelle Perez enjoyed another record shooting day inside Burton Coliseum on Saturday.
The result for the Northwestern State women’s basketball team, however, was the same as it was a season ago.
Despite a career-best-tying seven 3-pointers from Perez, Northwestern State could not finish off host McNeese State as the Cowgirls rallied for a 78-74 overtime Southland Conference victory, knocking off NSU in extra time for the second straight season in Lake Charles.
NSU (11-8, 5-3) dropped its second straight game despite enjoying strong starts to each quarter of regulation and the second 27-point performance of the season by Perez.
McNeese did its part by outrebounding NSU by five and turning 15 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points. Included in that was a fourth-quarter possession that featured two offensive rebounds and a go-ahead 3-pointer from Jayln Johnson.
“You have to be tough enough to force a contested shot and then secure a rebound,” fourth-year co-head coach Brooke Stoehr said. “We weren’t able to do that today. We have up 23 second chance points. That was the ball game.”
Northwestern State led by eight points with 6:13 to play after Cheyenne Brown knocked down a pair of free throws before the Cowgirls (12-7, 4-3) ran off 12 of the next 16 points to tie the game at 61 with 2:42 to play.
After Perez spun in a floater in the lane to re-establish a two-point NSU lead, Johnson took advantage of a pair of Cowgirls offensive rebounds to drain a straightaway 3-pointer to give McNeese a one-point lead with 58 seconds to play.
Northwestern State could not convert on its offensive possession, but Johnson, a 91.7-percent free throw shooter, hit just one of two free throws.
Given a lifeline, NSU converted when Brown scored on a putback with 5.6 seconds to play. Brown collected the first double-double of her career and NSU’s first of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a season-high 32 minutes.
“I was proud of our young posts,” Stoehr said. “I thought they battled and competed on the boards. Cheyenne pursued the ball today. It was good to see that rebounding effort. Her energy to go get that last one and get the putback to send us to overtime was very good to see.”
Northwestern State began the game with a 9-2 run, then opened the second and third quarters with 8-0 and 9-0 runs, respectively. In overtime, however, the Cowgirls grabbed the early momentum, scoring the first six points.
NSU made it a one-possession game when Perez tied her career high with her seventh 3 of the game with1:05 to play.
McNeese then hit 5 of 6 free throws to close out the victory. Johnson led McNeese with 23 points while Allison Baggett added 15.
Joining Perez in double figures for NSU were Lee (12 points), Beatrice Attura (11) and Brown. Attura set a career high with six assists while Perez chipped in four assists.
With her 27 points, Perez moved into ninth place on NSU’s all-time scoring list with 1,468 career points. During NSU’s previous trip to Lake Charles, Perez hit a then-career-high six 3-pointers and finished that game with 1,000 points in her career.
Perez shot 10 for 19 from the field and hit 50 percent of her 14 3-point attempts.
“She just wanted to win and was trying to will this group to a tough road win today,” Stoehr said. “Her stats speak for themselves. She’s as tough of a competitor as I’ve been around. She’d trade individual stats for a win any day for our team.”
Northwestern State returns to action Wednesday when it hosts Central Arkansas at 6:30 p.m. It will be the first home game for NSU since posting a 60-43 victory against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Jan. 13.