The Trappers put together four strong quarters of basketball, but dispersed inefficiently between a 78-64 home loss to No. 14 Casper on Wednesday, and a 73-58 defeat at Gillette on Saturday.
Northwest played with Casper point-for-point in the final three frames, but were unable to overcome an 11-point deficit after the first 10 minutes. Conversely, the Trappers opened their contest in Gillette with their highest-scoring quarter of the week, but went cold the rest of the way.
NWC head coach Janis Beal said the Trappers need to do a better job adjusting to the flow of the game and the adjustments of their opponents.
Gillette scored with the consistency that evaded the Trappers, who were held to their lowest point total since their season opener against No. 4 College of Southern Idaho. The Pronghorns scored between 17 and 20 points in all four quarters, while shooting 42.3 percent from the floor and 8-for-19 from the 3-point line.
“They’re shooting the three honestly better than I think everyone in the region thinks they can. They’re very athletic, so the biggest thing going in is you want to contain them on the drive,” Beal said. “By doing so sometimes you give up some of those outside shots. We have to do a better job, after they do knock down one or two, of realizing we have to close out and contest that shot a little bit better.”
Northwest scored just 22 points in the middle two quarters against Gillette after dropping 23 in the first. The Trappers managed just 25 points against the Pronghorns’ second-half zone and finished with a total of just nine team assists.
“We didn’t move the ball very well. We definitely have to move the ball quicker. We were holding it too much and then we would kind of try to dribble through (the zone),” Beal said. “We just didn’t move the ball and see the open passes.”
Sophomore Kealani Sagapolu led all scorers with 19 points in Gillette, and her 10 rebounds clinched her 10th double-double of the season. Sagapolu shot 7-of-8 from the field and was 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
The Trappers found it hard to get away from Sagapolu, even when Gillette focused more defensive attention toward her.
“They started trying to take away Kealani, and we still tried to force some passes in there. We need to do a good job of reading the defense and being smarter about how we attack,” Beal said.
Jacey Shaw added 15 points, three assists, two rebounds and four steals. The freshman guard was 6-of-14 from the floor, including 3-for-5 on threes.
The T-Birds outscored the Trappers just 52-49 in quarters two through four, but won with a 26-point opening frame.
“Casper right now is the top-ranked team in our region, and we played even with them in the three quarters, in a sense,” Beal said. “But the first quarter we can’t give ourselves that hole we have to dig ourselves out of.”
Casper came out firing, and Northwest appeared to be on its heels in the opening minutes.
“The biggest thing was we had some defensive breakdowns right at the very beginning (against Casper). Especially against a good team like Casper, you can’t get down,” Beal said. “We gave some of their shooters open looks. So when we gave them that little bit of space that got them rolling — they shot the ball extremely well during that part of the game.”
Casper shot 45.1 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent (5-for-11) from beyond the arc. Ten T-Birds scored and four scored in double figures.
Chandler Rose led the Trappers with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and five rebounds. Whitney Hatch added 12 points and Aubree Porter added nine.
When Northwest turned it around and kept pace, a lack of rebounding prevented them from making a comeback. Northwest was outrebounded 41-28.
“There were some possessions where we were trying to get back in the game in the second half, and those extra rebounds in a sense led to some extra possessions for them where they got a rebound putback,” Beal said. “On the flip side, offensively, our shooting percentage wasn’t great, but we weren’t giving ourselves very many second chances. It was kind of one-and-done on the offensive end.”
Going Miles away
Northwest hosted the winless Little Big Horn Rams Wednesday night after press time.
The Rams (0-12) have scored more than 50 points just once this season, and have lost each game by at least 44 points.
The Trappers head to Miles City for a 2 p.m. contest against the Pioneers (8-9) on Saturday.
Miles City is 5-3 at home and 2-3 overall since returning from winter break.
“They have a well-rounded team and I think they’re playing pretty well right now,” Beal said. “They’ve got a couple kids from the outside who can shoot it real well.”
Freshman guard Chelsey Borden averages 12.2 points per game and makes 35 percent of her 3-point attempts. Sophomore forward Theresa Mac-Dangosu leads Miles City with 14.6 ppg and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Beal said Northwest is working for incremental improvements on both sides of the ball.
“The defensive breakdowns we had against Casper, we did have some improvement against Gillette, and that’s the thing I’m looking for,” Beal said. “On the offensive end I’d like to see us become a little more team-oriented. ‘How can I get my teammates a better shot?’ Or, ‘How can I create and make it better for them?’ Trying to get more scores off of passes and screens than off the dribble.”