Now the Trappers need to figure out how to repeat the feat in the last week of the regular season in order to improve their seeding for the Region IX Tournament.
The Trappers (10-18, 3-8 Region IX-North) got out to an early lead and never relinquished as they beat Miles 74-70 at home on Feb. 10, but fell 72-50 at Western Wyoming on Saturday.
“It was definitely two completely different games,” NWC head coach Janis Beal said.
Four Trappers scored in double figures and sophomore Kealani Sagapolu was one point shy of a double-double as Northwest used a fast start to beat the Pioneers at home. The win was Northwest’s first conference victory against an opponent other than Little Big Horn, and one of the best games the Trappers have played this season.
“The only thing is that we followed it up with the game at Western,” Beal said.
Northwest scored just seven points in both the second and fourth quarters, and made a season-low 13 field goals (20.6 percent) in the 22-point loss. Northwest totaled 36 points in the first and third quarters, a pace equal to Western’s, but the Trappers were done in by a 29-15 first quarter in favor of the Mustangs (15-10, 6-6).
“I thought that they (the Mustangs) came out, and they played hard, they played very physical,” Beal said. “Our girls didn’t do a very good job matching that physicality. We got back on our heels and didn’t really compete.”
Sagapolu led the Trappers with 16 points and 13 boards.
Sophomore Shelby Nicholson scored 11 points and had five rebounds, and was the only other Trapper to score more than five points.
“She did a really good job as far as being aggressive,” Beal said.
Sophomore Larissa Knight finished with five points, four rebounds and three assists, while freshman Jacey Shaw had four points and six rebounds.
Saturday’s lack of energy was a stark difference from the way the Trappers came out at home against Miles (11-17, 3-9).
“I thought we came out really strong in the beginning,” Beal said. “For us to have a 10-point lead in the first quarter (24-14) was huge for us. I thought the girls played hard, defensively they did a really good job of contesting them.”
Northwest forced 25 Miles turnovers and took eight more field goals than the Pioneers, who shot 39.7 percent from the floor.
“We focused more on the defensive end of things,” Beal said. “Just trying to contest shots so they had to take some tough ones, make their shooters put the ball on the floor.”
The Trappers led 31-14 early in the second quarter, and maintained a double-digit advantage until the fourth, when a relaxed NWC defense allowed the Pioneers to catch up with 27 points.
“We had the big lead, and we’re not used to that,” Beal said. “We relaxed a bit and gave up some easy buckets.”
Shaw tied for a game-high 15 points, followed by sophomore Kennedy Netto’s 14, Rose’s 12 and Knight’s 11.
“I just thought we did a much better job moving the ball to the open player, and that’s where we ended up with the balanced scoring,” Beal said.
Sagapolu led all players with 16 rebounds. Knight added seven boards and three assists. Netto had four rebounds while Rose had three boards, two assists and two steals.
The regular season concludes with games at Central on Wednesday (after press time) and at 3 p.m. at home against Sheridan on Saturday.
“These next two games are still very important going into regionals,” Beal said. “If we win these next two we could move up to possibly fifth.”
The difference between fifth and seventh place could be the difference between a matchup with 19th-ranked Western Nebraska or Eastern Wyoming (10-10), a team the Trappers beat by 19 on Nov. 14.
Northwest would have to win out and get help from the Mustangs, who host Central (12-14, 4-7) in the final game of the season. Central lost four straight games — all by at least 19 points — heading into Wednesday’s contest. The Rustlers were held to less than 50 points in each of those losses.
“Going into Central, tough place to play, but a very winnable game,” Beal said.
Visit facebook.com/powelltribune for results from Wednesday’s game against Central Wyoming.