The win sets up the third meeting this season between the No. 2 seeded Bearcats and third-seeded Missouri Southern after the Lions beat Nebraska-Kearney 82-68.
Northwest (22-7, 16-3) called a timeout three minutes into Friday's game after Bryston Williams' first three pointer broke an 8-0 opening run for ESU. Williams scored the first Bearcats' first eight points. Northwest tied it 10-10 five minutes later and went on to outscore the Hornets 19-15 over the final 12 minutes of the half.
The Bearcats' shooting picked up in the second half as they managed to grab an 11-point lead. ESU (18-13, 10-9) cut it back to six with under five minutes to go, but Northwest held off any further rally. The Hornets shot just 22-of-82 from the field including just one basket on 18 attempts from three-point range.
Terrance Moore posted a game-high 26 points as he and Kaleb Wright combined for all but 13 of ESU's points. The Bearcats' Grant Cozad also finished in double figures with 11.
Northwest and MSSU will tip off at 8:15 on Saturday at the Municipal Auditorium.