Northwest (2-2) lost to Laramie County 95-73 Friday and Eastern Wyoming 76-73 in overtime Saturday at the Laramie County Community College Tournament.
The Trappers were unable to overcome the 55 turnovers they committed in their two games, in which they shot 45 percent and then 37.5 percent from the floor.
“When you have a poor shooting night you need every opportunity,” said head coach Brian Erickson. “Way too many turnovers, not enough opportunities.”
Northwest actually played decent half-court defense against the Laramie County Golden Eagles, Erickson said, but gave up too many fast break points.
“Overall, I don’t think it’s our defense that hurt us,” Erickson said. “We kept turning the ball over and it became a layup drill for them.”
Offensively, the Trappers struggled against Laramie’s zone. Erickson said Northwest didn’t move the ball around enough and failed to attack the back side of the defense.
“We didn’t make them move enough and we didn’t take care of the ball,” he said.
Sophomore Gary Gordon scored 16 points to lead the Trappers against the Golden Eagles. The point man also grabbed four rebounds.
Sophomore Gabe Solarin went for 14 points and four rebounds.
Sophomore Franklin Uzonwanne scored only four points but came up with a team-high 10 rebounds, including four offensive boards.
Laramie’s Deon Edwin and Deshon Portley each scored 25 points for the Golden Eagles.
Erickson said the Northwest defense didn’t adapt to Laramie’s top scorers.
“You can’t keep playing the same way you are, we have to make an adjustment on the fly,” Erickson said.
A zone defense may have slowed down the Laramie offense but the game’s circumstances forced the Trappers to stay in man-to-man defense for most of the game.
“We would have played more of it but we got down by so much, it’s hard to sit back in a zone and let them run 30 minutes off the shot clock,” Erickson said.
The coach hopes Friday’s loss was a learning experience for his team.
“We need our guys to be able to handle a six- or eight-point run and be able to come back with one of their own,” Erickson said.
Northwest had a chance to win Saturday’s game against Eastern Wyoming but couldn’t hold onto a late second-half lead and ultimately lost by three on overtime.
“We had an opportunity to put them away,” Erickson said. “It was a good game, I’m proud of how our guys fought.”
With the game tied at 64 and only seven seconds left on the clock, Gordon got the ball to within 12 feet of the basket but his potential game-winner was just a bit long.
“It looked good,” Erickson said. “It just hit the back iron.”
Gordon wasn’t the only Trapper to miss a good look.
“We missed probably 10 or 15 layups,” Erickson said.
Sophomore Jonothan Newsom led the Trappers with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“We’ve got to have that from him all the time,” Erickson said. “If he plays like that ... we’ll be all right.”
Sophomore Lawrence Fejokwu had a double-double as well, his second of the season, with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
“He played really well,” Erickson said. “He was a beast around the basket.”
KJ Rech added 12 points and six boards.
“He was a workhorse,” Erickson said.
The coach said his team will need to improve its mental toughness to win close games, but already saw improvement from Friday to Saturday.
“We made a move in the right way,” Erickson said.
The men played Rocky Mountain JV Wednesday night in Billings after press time.
The Trappers then begin a five-game homestand Friday and Saturday with the Lamplighter Tournament. Northwest faces the Sons of Blue Angels at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and the Montana All-Stars at 3 p.m. Saturday.