Leslie Blackburn’s jumper with 2:41 to play gave the Trappers a 60-56 lead. It would also be the last points scored by NWC.
After a Salt Lake free throw, the Trappers whiffed on back-to-back 3-point attempts. Rachel Morris’ offensive tip-in of a missed basket drew Salt Lake to within a point with 59 seconds to play.
The Trappers failed to connect on still another 3-point bucket with 36 seconds to go. Blackburn came up with a key play though, stealing the ball from Salt Lake with 15 seconds to go in the game.
“Leslie Blackburn had an outstanding weekend for us,” said Trapper head coach Janis Beal. “She did a good job of getting into passing lanes and getting her hands on some passes, and that takeaway late was important in limiting Salt Lake’s chances.”
Blackburn would miss the front end of a one-and-one opportunity moments later, however, giving the Bruins one last crack at stealing the win. SLCC’s final 3-point attempt missed the mark though, falling into the hands of the Trappers’ Leanna Winterholler to close out the game.
“The girls worked so hard as a team for 40 minutes and really forced Salt Lake into some tough shots,” said Beal, noting the Bruins had shot better than 57 percent from the floor the previous night.
Salt Lake managed less than 41 percent accuracy from the field against Northwest and failed to connect on a single 3-point bucket in the contest.
Kennedy Allen finished with a team-high 14 points for the Trappers. Savannah Minder added 11 and Imari Simpson came off the bench to knock home 10 points for NWC.
“Our post players were a bit undersized against SLCC, but they did a good job of attacking and got their posts into some foul trouble,” said Beal. “We forced Salt Lake to go smaller against us and I think they struggled some as a result.”
After holding their own against Salt Lake early, the Trappers fell behind by eight points with five minutes remaining in the first half. Northwest never got closer than four and trailed 37-32 at the half.
Northwest opened the second half by scoring nine of the first 12 points, reclaiming the lead with an Allen jumper at the 14:10 mark. That advantage proved to be short-lived as Salt Lake immediately reclaimed the lead, but could never pull in front by more than four points.
Winterholler’s jumper with just under nine minutes remaining gave a 50-49 scoreboard lead back to the Trappers. Three-pointers from Adsressa Augusto and Winterholler helped stretch that advantage out to 58-53 with less than seven minutes to go. Northwest would hit just one more bucket after that, but it would prove to be all the team needed in the key non-conerence victory.
“Hopefully the team will use this as a catalyst and see this as an indication of what they’re capable of,” said Beal. “We still need to go out and work to improve, but this is the sort of thing you really hope you can build off of as the season goes forward.”
The victory also salvaged an important split of weekend basketball action for the Trapper women, who fell 68-58 in their opening contest of the weekend against Utah State-Eastern (formerly Eastern Utah). In that game, the Trappers watched as Eastern scored 16 of the game’s first 20 points to immediately fall behind by double figures.
Northwest battled back and a Leslie Thronburg jumper at the 8-minute mark of the first half drew the Trappers to within three, 21-18. Eastern answered the bucket with a 10-0 run and the margin never returned to single digits until one minute remained in the game.
Allen had 20 points for the Trapper women, who struggled to 30.6 percent shooting as a team. Savannah Minder added 12 and Leslie Thronburg netted 11 points, plus a team-high eight rebounds.
“The biggest difference was we just weren’t ready to go at the opening tip,” said Beal. “We put ourselves on our heels early and that really was the difference in that game.”
The Trappers travel to Gillette this weekend for more tournament action. Northwest faces Snow College on Friday before playing a non-region game against Eastern Wyoming on Saturday.
Northwest 60, Salt Lake 59
Minder 11, Augusto 7, Allen 14, Thronburg 6, Blackburn 6, Winterholler 5, Lund 1, Simpson 10.
USU-Eastern 68, Northwest 58
Minder 12, Augusto 3, Allen 20, Thronburg 11, Blackburn 6, Lund 2, Simpson 4 .