Northwestern hadn't been tested in a tight game all season.
That changed on Thursday night when Pleasant Valley gave the undefeated Lady Tigers all they could handle in a nonleague contest.
Northwestern passed the test as it held on for a 49-47 win.
"You're going to be in tight games," said Northwestern head coach Chris Deutsch. "We got a couple defensive stops at the end of the game, got some rebounds and made some foul shots. And that was the game."
Trailing 41-39 with just over four minutes left, the Tigers' Sara Jones scored four straight points to give her team the lead.
With a chance to tie the game, the Lady Bears' Kelecia Harris missed the front end of a one and one. Caileigh Landrigan got the rebound for Northwestern then scored at the other end to put her team up 45-41 lead with 1:56 on the clock.
Northwestern freshman Sara Segan scored four of her seven points in the game's final minute to secure the victory. Segan also had 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots in the game.
Northwestern made 19 of its 29 foul shots in the game, while Pleasant Valley made just eight of 21.
"The difference tonight was at the foul line," said Deutsch. "That's one thing we've been struggling with. We shortened practice yesterday and some of the girls stuck around to work on their shooting."
Jones, a junior who leads the team in scoring, got 13 of her game-high 22 points by making all but one of her foul shots in the game.
"I've been struggling this year from the line, around 30 percent or something like that," she said. "Last night I stayed after practice and shot."
Heading into the final minute of the game the Bears were shooting just three for 17 at the line. They went four for four in the final minute of play.
"Take away the first quarter and take away the foul shooting, it would have been a different game," said Pleasant Valley head coach Nadia Gauronsky.
Northwestern (5-0) opened an 11-1 lead in the first quarter as Trista Cunningham scored all seven of her points in the period. But the sophomore center picked up her third foul early in the second quarter and missed over six minutes of that period.
With Cunningham and freshman point guard Sabrina Mertz in foul trouble, the Tigers got a solid effort from the seniors that came off the bench.
"The bench players are a lot of seniors," said Deutsch. "Emma Kemmerer, Taylor Dietrich, Jennifer Nemes and Jess Albright, those girls were huge in the first half. We were in major foul trouble."
Pleasant Valley (4-3) chipped away at the lead through the first and second quarter, and Harris appeared ready to take over at times. She scored nine of her team-high 16 points in the first half.
The Bears finally tied the game when Amber Chieffo hit a three-pointer with 2:16 left in the third quarter to make it 32-32.
Northwestern built its lead back up to 39-32 early in the fourth before the Bears came back again.
Arden Cisluycis made her third three-pointer of the game to tie it at 39 all with 6:14 left. Harris put them up 41-39 with 4:02 left before the Tigers used an 8-2 run to take control.
Meckes 2-0-2-6, Cisuycis 3-2-4-11, Dekmar 2-2-5-6, Chieffo 2-0-0-6, Harris 7-2-4-16, Dorney 0-1-2-1, Frigiola 0-0-2-0, Craig 0-1-2-1. TOTALS: 16-8-21-47.
Mertz 1-1-2-3, Landrigan 1-0-0-2, Jones 4-13-14-22, Kemmerer 2-0-0-4, Nemes 0-0-0-0, Cunningham 3-1-1-7, Dietrich 1-1-2-4, Albright 0-0-0-0, Segan 2-3-10-7. TOTALS: 14-19-29-49.
Pleasant Valley 11 13 8 15 – 47
Northwestern 15 15 7 12 – 49
Three-pointers: PV – Cisluycis 3, Meckes 2, Chieffo 2; NW - Jones 1, Dietrich 1.