Northwest jumped to an early 20-12 lead, but managed just two points over the next 5:30 as Dawson moved back into a tie. The two schools remained close throughout much of the rest of the first half until the Trappers made a late switch to full-court pressure on defense.
The change yielded a couple of turnovers, including the one that set up Lesu’s 3-pointer from near the time line as the first half horn sounded.
“Any time you can take a little momentum into the locker room with you, you’ll take it,” Trapper head coach Janis Beal said of the shot. “We made the switch defensively and, while they were able to get a couple easy baskets against it, we were able to get some steals as well. It also put the tempo of the game at a pace that I thought favored us.”
The Trappers pushed their lead into double figures in the early minutes of the second half, only to see Dawson counter and narrow the gap to 65-61. The Buccaneers had no answer for Smith down the stretch, however.
The Alpine, Utah, sophomore, who entered the game as one of the top scorers in Region IX this season, knocked down all 14 of her free-throw attempts in the contest, including several late as the Trappers re-established a double-digit lead. Smith also went 2-for-2 from 3-point range and finished 7-for-14 overall from the floor to go along with seven rebounds.
Megan Goodman added 17 points for Northwest and Meagan Butler tossed down 11 in support.
“Megan came in and hit some big 3-pointers,” Beal said of the sophomore shooter who went 4-for-6 from long range. “She really gave us a lift.”
Aside from Dawson’s run to cut the margin to four points, the Trappers controlled much of the second half. After being out-rebounded by one in the first half, Northwest owned a 22-12 advantage on the glass in the second half. The Trappers also knocked down five of their seven 3-point attempts in the second half.
Northwest plays three games this week, all on the road. The Trappers travel to Little Big Horn College tonight (Tuesday) for another sub-region contest. The team heads to Central Wyoming and Western Wyoming for a Friday-Saturday swing through Region IX’s Central sub-region.
The next home contest for the Trapper women comes on Thursday, Feb. 3, when NWC hosts Little Big Horn.
Northwest 88, Dawson 73
Goodman 17, Ryan 4, Smith 30, Garrett 6, Lesu 7, Butler 11, Fisher 1, Santos 6, Otineru 6.