(WVUE) - After falling behind by 17 late against Stephen F. Austin, the Nicholls State University women's basketball team rallied back to make it three-point game, but a deep potential game-tying 3-pointer by Hope Pawlowski with seconds remaining was off the mark as the Lady Jacks escaped with an 82-77 victory Wednesday night at Stopher Gym.
Pawlowski scored 16 of her career-high 25 points following the break, helping Nicholls climb back from a 76-59 deficit in a frantic final four minutes.
Nicholls (8-15, 5-7 SLC) used back-to-back 3-pointers by Pawlowski to fuel a 12-0 run which made the score 78-72 with two minutes remaining. The Colonels forced two turnovers on the next two possessions, but came up empty on the offensive end. After a pair of free throws by SFA's Taylor Ross, who had 25 points as well, Pawlowski delivered a huge basket-and-one to put the score at 80-77 with 43 seconds left.
Pawlowski's final 3-pointer attempt came off a steal, but Nicholls was unable to even the score. SFA (18-4, 9-2 SLC) then used two free throws by Stevi Parker with two seconds on the clock to seal the victory.
Nicholls had outstanding performances by all five starters as each reached double-figures in scoring. Taylor Morrison scored 15 points, Emani White had 11 and Tia Charles finished with 10. Sophomore Cassidy Barrios put together another phenomenal all-around performance with 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four blocks and three steals.
Nicholls led at the half, 31-28. The Colonels fell behind early before scoring 11 straight points in the first quarter. White drilled a 3-pointer to give Nicholls a 19-7 lead, but SFA answered by scoring the final eight points.
In the second, Nicholls did not score until four minutes in, but headed into the intermission the three-point lead. The Colonels hit six 3-pointers in the half, led by two each from White and Morrison.
SFA took the lead in the third, helped by 13 points from Brentney Branch. Finishing with a game-high 26 points, Branch hit four of her six 3-pointers on the night in the quarter, which lifted the 'Jacks to a 49-44 advantage.
The offenses exploded in the fourth as each team scored 33 points. Branch was still scorching hot for SFA, hitting two more 3's to push the lead to 60-49.
Following a layup by Barrios that made it 67-59, SFA used another 3-pointer by Branch and a layup from Ross to gain its biggest lead of the night. But Charles answered with a 3-ball for Nicholls, setting up the thrilling finish.
Nicholls connected on 12 3-pointers in the loss and shot 45 percent from the field. The Colonels forced SFA into 20 turnovers, leading to 13 steals. Tykeria Williams had five steals off the bench, but struggled from the field making just 1-of-7.
The Colonels will play their final home game in the next few weeks, hosting Central Arkansas on Saturday.