The Trappers lost at Sheridan 73-71 three days after extending its streak at home against Casper with a 58-57 overtime win.
Head coach Janis Beal said the two-point loss stings and will challenge the character of this Trapper team.
“Champions get knocked down and they get back up,” the coach said. “So this will be a true test of where we’re at.”
Each game came down to the final play, and each resulted in a missed shot.
One miss gave the Trappers a win, the other a stinging loss.
Northwest found itself down 10 points with 33.5 seconds to play against the Generals, but deft shooting and Sheridan turnovers gave the Trappers second life.
“It showed the heart of the kids,” Beal said. “It just showed their will and their ability to compete.”
Sophomore Leanne Winterholler grabbed a steal and scored a layup with three seconds left to bring the game to 73-69. Fouling would do the Trappers little good, so they counted on their defense to force a turnover.
All Sheridan had to do to ice the game was inbound the ball, but the Northwest press helped to force an errant pass that bounced in the court and skipped out of bounds untouched.
Freshman Dana Bjorhus, who was instrumental in the Northwest comeback, looped around the perimeter, received the inbounds pass and launched a 3-pointer.
Her shot fell well short, but there was a whistle. Bjorhus was fouled on a shot Sheridan should never have contested and she went to the line to shoot three free throws with 1.6 seconds left.
“You couldn’t have scripted it any better, as far as to attempt a comeback,” Beal said.
Bjorhus’ first free throw was good. As was her second. A third made foul shot would cut the lead to one but would also give the ball back to Sheridan. Instead, she missed it on purpose hoping for a tip-in opportunity.
Beal said the Trappers have prepared for this exact situation.
The ball bounced softly off the right side of the rim and landed in the hustling hands of freshman Caitlin Clancy, who beat her defender down low and quickly put the ball back up from the right block.
The ball sailed high enough, but traveled over the front of the rim as the horn sounded.
“The girls executed it perfectly, it just didn’t fall,” Beal said.
Bjorhus led the Trappers with a career-high 24 points, three rebounds and two steals.
“She was just being Dana,” Beal said. “She was a main factor in that comeback. (Sheridan) left her open and she knocked down shots.”
Bjorhus was 8-for-12 from the field, including 6-for-8 from 3-point range, on her way to the highest point total of any Trapper this season.
Freshman Sarah Nielsen added 11 points and nine rebounds in the loss.
“She was definitely undersized compared to their post players but she did a good job battling and getting some rebounds,” Beal said.
Sophomore Imari Simpson had 11 points and five rebounds and sophomore Andressa Augusto had 10 points, five assists, two steals and a rebound.
The coach said the team was disappointed following the loss.
“Sometimes those two-point losses are worse than a 20-point loss,” Beal said.
But she told her players “we won a lot of games in a row and don’t let one loss bring us down.”
The win streak was extended to 10 on Jan. 8 at home against Casper, but only after the Trappers avoided a T-Bird buzzer-beater in overtime.
An Augusto bucket put Northwest up 58-57 with 11.9 seconds in overtime.
Casper called a timeout, and was able to get off a decent look but the shot didn’t fall and the Trapper bench roared in celebration.
Northwest held a five-point lead at half and pushed that to nine with 7:15 left.
But Casper hung around and cut the Trappers’ lead to 49-44 with 1:20 to play in regulation. The Trappers went cold and allowed five straight points by the T-Birds, who forced overtime.
Casper continued to roll early in overtime and led 53-49 less than a minute into the extra period.
Beal called a timeout with her team down 57-56 and 33.4 showing on the clock. She set up the play that would end with Augusto’s go-ahead basket.
Augusto paced the Trappers with another all-around game. The point guard had 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and four steals.
Freshman Hatti Snyder owned the boards with a game-high 13 rebounds. She also had six points, two assists and two steals.
Bjorhus had eight points, nine rebounds, an assist and a steal, and Simpson scored seven points to go along with eight boards.
Winterholler struggled with her shot, normally her speciality, against Casper. The sophomore scored eight points on 3-for-16 shooting, including 2-of-13 from deep. Winterholler shot 41.5 percent from 3-point range in 17 games before facing Casper.
Beal said playing in ultra-competitive conference games will help the Trappers down the road.
“Having some of those tight games is going to be good for us,” Beal said. “The way our conference is playing right now anybody can beat anyone on any night.”
The Trappers won 15 straight games to start the 2003-04 season. The team’s longest win streak in between was five games won during the 2010-11 season.
The women tried to begin a new win streak Wednesday night against Central Wyoming (see story at www.powelltribune.com).