Team Battling For Fourth Seed In Region IX North
Poor shooting contributed to a pair of losses for the Northwest College women’s basketball team last week, as they fell 58-53 to Casper College on Wednesday, Feb. 1, and 65-52 to Gillette College on Saturday.
CASPER 58, NWC 53
A furious comeback late in the fourth quarter wasn’t quite enough for the Lady Trappers.
“Percentage wise, we dug ourselves a hole and Casper is undefeated in the region,” said NWC head coach Janis Beal. “They are a very good team — you can’t dig that type of a hole and expect to come back.”
Casper scored in the first 23 seconds to take a 2-0 lead and never looked back, as NWC was unable to catch up.
The Lady Trappers trailed 14-8 after one quarter and 31- 14 at halftime, shooting just 14 percent from the floor and a dismal 9 percent from 2-point range. That included 19 missed shots inside the paint.
“You can’t drop a better look than what we got. We had great shots, the girls were doing a great job of attacking the basket and getting to that shot,” said Beal, adding, “We have to do a better job of focusing and finishing the shot; we did everything else we needed to.”
Casper built its lead up to as many as 20 points in the third quarter, and with five minutes remaining in the game, NWC was still down 48-31.
That’s when the Lady Trappers’ intensity changed, making a big rally.
Shots started falling and NWC made some free throws to close the gap to just three points, 56-53, in the final seconds.
Only after a T-Bird player sank two free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining did Casper seal the 58-53 win.
Asked what was said or what happened to cause the dramatic change, “that’s a great question; we kind of asked them that,” Beal said. “I don’t think if it was really anything that we did, other than they just kind of decided to play with a little more pep in their step and a little bit more sense of urgency.”
She added that, “We made huge improvements, but the shooting percentage definitely hurt us in the first half.”
Both teams committed 16 turnovers. After giving up 19 offensive rebounds to Casper in mid-January, Northwest held Casper to 11 last week. Defensively, Casper collected 30 rebounds to Northwest’s 27.
Northwest took 58 shots from the field and Casper took 55, Northwest shot 15 3-pointers to Casper’s 17 and 23 free throws were attempted by Northwest whereas Casper attempted 20.
After the slow start, Northwest wound up shooting 32.8 percent from the field, 26.7 percent at 3-point shots and 69.7 percent at the free throw line.
Casper shot 30.9 percent from the field, 41.2 percent on 3-point tries and 60 percent at the free throw line.
Beal said free throws came into play.
“They (Casper) made them when they needed to,” she said. “We missed eight, we shoot 60 percent; if we shoot 85-90 percent, that’s maybe a different ball game too.”
Beal was pleased with the way her squad fought back and battled.
“But we can’t only make four shots in a half and expect to come out on top,” the coach said. “We did everything we needed to do to win that game, except make shots in the first half.”
Jessie Lessard led with 12 points and Charri McArthur joined her in double digits with 10. On the boards, Dani McManamen led with seven rebounds.
“I think it proved that we can play with the top teams, but it also proves we have some improvement to do,” Beal said. “Because we have to learn to play with the intensity of that last five minutes for the full game.”
65, NWC 52
“Gillette is a type of team that always comes out strong in the first quarter,” Beal said. In every Region IX North game this season, Gillette has built a really good lead in the first quarter and then just kind of maintained it, she said.
True to form, Gillette led 22-15 at the end of the first period and still led by seven at halftime, 38-31. They went on to win from there.
“We talked about having to come out strong,” Beal said. “But ultimately we didn’t shoot a great percentage from any aspect.”
Throughout the game, Gillette shot 50 percent from beyond the arc to Northwest 16.7 percent.
“We have to make their shots a little tougher, if they are shooting 50 percent from (3-point range), we are not defending the three very well,” said Beal. “And then we have to convert on our end; we have to do a better job just slowing down and focusing and knocking down shots.”
From the field, the Lady Trappers shot 35.6 percent, along with 61.5 percent at the free throw line; Gillette shot 44.8 percent from the field and 66.7 percent at the free throw line.
Beal added that 28 turnovers hurt the Lady Trappers a little bit, but noted the squad forced 24 turnovers from Gillette.
“Really it comes down to shot percentage and just making their shots a little tougher and us converting on our end,” Beal said.
McManamen had a double-double, with 10 rebounds and 10 points.
Next up for the Lady Trappers are two home games. They played Sheridan Wednesday and host Little Big Horn College today (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m.
“We’ve got to get these games, because we’re battling for position in the region in the north for seeding,” Beal said.
In the Region IX North division, Casper sits in first, Western Wyoming second and Gillette third. That leaves Northwest, Miles Community College and Sheridan battling for fourth place, trailed by Central Wyoming and Little Big Horn.
“So getting a win over Sheridan puts a little more separation,” Beal said. “We’ve got to get those games of those teams below us.”