All Nation Ford guard Katlyn Smith wanted was to take the best available shot.
That opportunity came twice for Smith during a crucial stretch in the fourth quarter. And the Lady Falcons guard responded not once, but both times beyond the 3-point arc.
That erased a six-point deficit and gave the Lady Falcons the necessary momentum to pull out a thrilling 45-41 road victory over Northwestern to open Region 3-AAAA action on Monday.
"I was just looking to take the open shot and I just wanted to take any one that I could get," Smith of the two clutch jumpers.
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Lady Trojans forward Amber Stewart converted an offensive rebound for a 32-26 lead to open the fourth quarter.
However, Smith found herself open on the next two Nation Ford trips, both times beyond the 3-point arc. Her first attempt swished the net to cut the deficit to three, and the second pulled the Lady Falcons even, 32-32, with 6:13 remaining.
Stewart scored the next three Northwestern points, but Nation Ford took a 36-35 lead when Smith scored on the inside. Then Katie Kozlowski drove down the lane for a layup.
The Lady Falcons then got two crucial 3-point jumpers from Carson Trull and Kozlowski, and grabbed the clear momentum with a 42-37 lead with less than 2 minutes remaining.
Guard Keila Shelton sank two free throws, pulling Northwestern within three points. However, Shelton's 3-point attempt to tie on the next Lady Trojans possession was off target.
Nation Ford grabbed the rebound and sank three of four free throws down the stretch to grab the key region-opening victory.
"Shooting the 3-pointer is what we do," Nation Ford coach Brian Turner said. "We saw where the opportunity to shoot the three presented itself in the fourth quarter, and took advantage of it."
Northwestern coach John Bramlett credited Nation Ford for the hard-fought win, but said his players lacked intensity.
"We had miscommunication defensively in the fourth quarter. We went out and did not know who had who and gave up two 3-pointers," Bramlett said. "That really cost us in the fourth quarter. We just have to give a better effort in practice" in order to properly prepare for key region games.