BILLINGS — Montana Western women’s basketball coach Lindsay Woolley was not worried during his team’s NAIA second round game on Friday afternoon.
He knew eventually his team would make a run.
Especially when he had two point guards on the floor.
Or at least one that used to be.
Senior center Britt Cooper finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, more importantly sparking a 10-0 run late in the third quarter that led the Bulldogs to a 70-58 win over Lyon College.
Before Cooper was a predominant post player for the Bulldogs, she was a point guard for Class C Harrison-Willow Creek High. Woolley never envisioned her as a point guard, but he helped her learn how to be comfortable near the basket.
“She’s pretty good for a Class C point guard,” Woolley said with a smile. “She is undersized and doesn’t jump as high as most but she knows where to go. Once our kids start finding her it brings such a different dimension to our team.”
Cooper shared the difficulties of mastering her new craft, but learned a hook shot that helped her out against larger centers.
“A short person has to get up some how,” Cooper said.
While NAIA Player of the Year Brianna King has been the Bulldogs’ main offensive threat, players such as Cooper have been a nice complement.
Especially one as versatile as Cooper.
The game featured a stalemate for the first half, despite offensive production from King and Cooper.
The Bulldogs pushed ahead for their largest lead at 33-28, but Lyon didn’t lay down.
Montana Western’s lead diminished to just a one-point advantage. King led all scorers with 13 points. Cooper only scored five points and grabbed five rebounds, but it didn’t phase her. She was on her way to her fourth double-double.
Cooper never had a problem scoring the basketball in high school. During her four years she totaled 1,169 points.
But her height, standing at 5-foot-10, presented her an opportunity to play for Montana Western.
“I just thought she was just a good basketball player that could play (small forward or power forward),” Woolley said. “After Carroll kicked our tail (in the regular season), I moved her from the four to the five and we have been a lot better ever since.”
In the second half, Cooper still showed off her guard skills by hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key and driving on the Lyon defense.
She turned back into a post, especially when she was matched up against Lyon’s 6-2 Samantha French.
“I think the biggest struggle was learning post moves,” Cooper said. “I never had to play in the post before.”
With the Bulldogs in firm control in the fourth quarter, the Scots attempted a comeback, getting within seven points, but Cooper and King proved to be the difference, scoring nine of the team’s final 14 points.
King lead all scorers with 27 points, which looked like it could outshine Cooper’s measly 17 and 12, but Woolley said they wouldn’t be in this position without his four-year starter.
“She can do it all,” Woolley aid. “You saw her hit a 3, she took their big kid off the dribble, it makes a big difference.”
Cooper’s career is winding down. Regardless of what happens this weekend she has already done a lot. She scored 1,000 points with the Bulldogs just prior to the end of the regular season and soon after was named first-team all-conference.
But there is still one thing left to do. The only thing is standing in her way is three more games. The next is Saturday afternoon against The Master’s.
“I have a lot of trust in my teammates and we have to play our game,” Cooper said. “I think something will come out of it.”