March 12, 2006
NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) - Clifton Lee had 22 points to lead Northwestern State to a 95-87 victory in the finals of the Southland Conference tournament on Sunday, and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
The win gave Northwestern State (25-7), the Southland Conference regular season champion, its first trip to the NCAA tournament in five years.
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.
Lee 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.