Sometimes the game’s most important shot gets buried in the flow, especially if it occurs long before game’s end.
But Saturday’s 3-pointer nailed by Alexi Payne in the last seconds of the first quarter stood out.
When Payne fired down her jumper, it tied the Northwest women’s basketball team with Eastern Wyoming. Payne’s key shooting in the second quarter helped propel the Lady Trappers to a breakaway lead.
Northwest finished off Eastern 80-72 in the First Bank of Wyoming Shootout at Cabre Gym. That came a day after Northwest bested Williston State of North Dakota 88-32.
Payne came in off the bench for the three, then quickly added five more points early in the second period as Northwest posted an 18-6 quarter margin.
“We were communicating great,” Payne said. “I credit our teamwork.”
The Trappers combined for 19 assists and piled up points on layups.
No one was sharper than Kira Marlow, who threw down a team-leading 19 points after scoring 17 against Williston Friday. The double victories gave Northwest a 3-2 record after opening the season 1-2 on the road.
“It was a big step up,” Marlow said. “It was a big step forward. Our intensity picked up.”
Early in the third quarter the Trappers led, 43-27, and they maintained a lead of around 15 points for most of the rest of the game. By making 25 free throws and by shooting well in the closing minutes, Eastern trimmed the lead to six.
“It was kind of scary,” Marlow said. “But we were a lot calmer in the end than we have been.”
Coach Janis Beal watched the clock as Eastern made a last run.
“It caused a few gray hairs,” Beal said.
Center Julynne Silva was a force in the middle, scoring 13 points with 10 rebounds after scoring 17 with seven rebounds against Williston. Tayla Sayer had a 12-point, five-assist game versus Eastern and Dallas Petties scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Petties said of the brief Eastern comeback, “It was annoying.”
NWC’s rebounding margin was 34-20 and the Trappers made 23 of 26 foul-shot attempts.
“We hit our free throws,” Beal said. “Tonight we definitely needed them.”
Northwest’s main obstacle was containing Eastern’s Pamela Bethel of the Bahamas, who had an immense game with 33 points and 20 rebounds.
“We’ve got to do a better job of not putting teams on the free-throw line so much,” Beal said.
In this case it was basically putting Bethel on the line since she had 15 attempts.
Free throws were of no consequence against Williston. That game was a rout from the start. Northwest led 27-3 after the first quarter and recorded a 29-4 spread in the third quarter.
What the Trappers are focused on as they prepare for a three-game road trip to Idaho, Thursday-Saturday, is playing complete games, including defensively.
“We talked a lot about not letting the last action affect us,” Silva said. “We talked a lot about details and keeping the team together.”
Petties said the Trappers should be able to get into rhythm and stay in rhythm.
“We’re just putting the pieces together,” she said. “We’re trying to take control.”