Moving on: NWC WBB pulls away in OT after trading late threes

Posted 4/6/21

With Friday’s Region IX women’s basketball play-in game tied 71-71 with 10 seconds left, the Trappers had possession and an opportunity to advance to the quarterfinals. 

Sophomore …

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Moving on: NWC WBB pulls away in OT after trading late threes

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With Friday’s Region IX women’s basketball play-in game tied 71-71 with 10 seconds left, the Trappers had possession and an opportunity to advance to the quarterfinals. 

Sophomore point guard Samiyah Worrell maintained possession at the top of the arc, dribbling left to the wing. With a hand in her face, Worrell fired away.

Swish.

As the ball dropped through the net, every fan in the Cabre Gym thought NWC had clinched its spot in the next round, taking a three-point lead with 4.3 seconds remaining. But Western Wyoming Community College’s Tori Ross had other plans. 

She received the inbounds pass far behind the 3-point line and heaved a desperation attempt with 1 second left. Just like Worrell’s shot, nothing but net. It went to overtime.

As disappointing as the buzzer-beater was, it didn’t phaze Northwest head coach Camden Levett. 

“My heart didn’t even sink,” Levett said. “My message was we have five more minutes to play at home, but I give [Ross] a lot of credit.”

In the following five minutes, NWC played exceptionally despite being exhausted from the 40 prior minutes of basketball and having two post players — Riley Aiono and Kierra Cutright — in foul trouble. 

After WWCC took a 77-74 lead with a three, Aiono knocked down a free throw and Cutright made a contested inside layup, knotting the game up once again. On the ensuing WWCC possession, Worrell intercepted a pass and drew a foul, then knocked down both free-throw attempts. 

NWC went 6-of-8 from the charity stripe in overtime, while the Mustangs missed six free throws. WWCC had plenty of opportunities, as both Aiono and Cutright fouled out, but were unable to capitalize, allowing the Trappers to escape with a 82-78 win. 

With the team shooting just over 60% from the line this year, free throws have been a struggle. But the coach was proud of his team’s performance from the stripe late in Friday’s contest. 

“We just work on them every day, and they stick to it,” Levett said. “We just have to keep a short mind.”

Prior to the back-and-forth sequence, it was a game of runs.

NWC dominated the first quarter, scoring 30 points. Leading by 12 after 10 minutes, the Trappers played into the home crowd early on.

“We were just excited to play at home,” Levett said. “The volleyball and soccer teams were there, and we kind of fed off that energy we had.”

But in the second, WWCC closed the gap, heading to the locker room down by just one, 43-42. The Trappers were once again efficient in the third, outscoring the Mustangs 16-11, but WWCC made a run in the fourth, leading by six at one point. 

Levett traced this back-and-forth battle to fatigue on both ends.

“I wanted to keep pressing and keep pushing, so we did that,” he said. “We got tired, but so did they.”

Worrell was NWC’s leading scorer with 28 points. Sophomores Raquel Turner and Sydney Prather also ended in double figures with 13 a piece.

Down low, Cutright stepped up, finishing with 11 boards. Levett also noted valuable contributions in the paint from Aiono and Tatiana Coleman. 

The Trappers survived and advanced, which means they will head south to La Junta, Colorado, for a quarterfinal matchup with Otero Junior College Thursday at 5:30 p.m. With a win, NWC would move on to the semifinals, which will be played Friday. 

Otero enters as the No. 1 seed from Region IX’s South Division, finishing the season 15-3. The Trappers know it will be a challenge facing such a strong opponent, but Levett and his student-athletes are thrilled for the opportunity as they venture south.

“We’re excited to take on Otero,” Levett said. “They play zone defense, which we haven’t seen a lot, so that’s our focus today.”

    

Northwest 82, Western Wyoming 78

Points — Samiyah Worrell 28, Raquel Turner 13, Sydney Prather 13, Kierra Cutright 9, Riley Aiono 7, Shelby Tarter 7, Tatiana Coleman 4, Celina Tress 1;

Rebounds — Cutright 11, Aiono 6, Turner 5, Worrell 5, Prather 4, Coleman 3, Hannah Harris 2, Tarter 1, Tress 1;

Assists — Worrell 6;

Steals — Cutright 4

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