Coming off a three-game losing streak and desperately needing a win to maintain position as a Colonial League playoff team, Northwestern snapped its skid with a 49-34 victory over Northern Lehigh Tuesday.
The Lady Tigers forced 19 Bulldog turnovers, leading to many fastbreak points and several deflating runs.
"Our pressure created a lot," said Northwestern head coach Chris Deutsch. "We had to. That's when we're at our best, when we're up-tempo and pressuring people and making them make mistakes."
The Tigers (13-6, 8-4) took their first lead of the game in the final minute of the first quarter when steals by Sara Jones, Sarah Seagan and Caileigh Landrigan sparked 12-2 run and led to a 14-9 lead after a quarter.
Northwestern, which was behind 7-2 early in the game, forced seven turnovers in the first quarter alone.
"Turnovers cost us the game," said Northern Lehigh head coach Dave Oertner. "We got zero fast breaks and they got a million of them because of their turnovers."
The Tigers got four more fastbreak points in the second quarter, but Northern Lehigh senior center Aimee Oertner scored six of her team-high 15 points in that period as her team cut the lead to 20-17 at halftime.
The decisive run for the Northwestern came at the start of the second half. After Northern Lehigh cut the lead to one on a Rachel Hams basket, Jones hit a three-pointer then got a steal that resulted in a Segan layup. Segan followed that with another steal and a trip to the foul line, resulting in a 26-19 Northwestern lead with 6:34 left in the third quarter.
"We played excellent defense," said Landrigan. "We communicated well. We knew where Oertner was out there. We played good defense against all of them. We knew we had to pressure the ball and we knew we couldn't let them get it in to her."
Oertner made four shots on just 12 attempts in the game. She dominated the boards with 24 rebounds while blocking nine shots.
The Tigers forced six more Bulldog turnovers in the third quarter and pulled out to their biggest lead of the night, 33-24 after a Sam MacLaughlin three-pointer with 32 seconds left in the period.
MacLaughlin nailed another trey to start the fourth quarter and Landrigan hit one a few minutes later to push the lead to 39-28.
After going 0 for 10 from three-point range in the first half, Northwestern hit 4 of 9 from beyond the arc in the second half.
Despite going 4 for 12 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, Northwestern, which is now 10-0 at home this year, was able to extend its lead and earn the much-needed win.
"We were coming off a three-game losing streak so we needed to get our morale back up," said Jones. "We've been on the road the last three games. We have a big student section. Being at home is a big advantage for us."
Jones scored a game-high 19 points with 11 rebounds, and eight steals. Segan scored 10 points and six rebounds.
With three games left, Northwestern holds a two-game lead over Saucon Valley and Wilson for a wild card playoff berth into league playoffs. The Tigers are also one game behind North Division leader Bangor with the Slaters scheduled to visit New Tripoli next Tuesday.
"It was really a gutty win considering what was on the line tonight," said Deutsch.
The Bulldogs (8-10, 5-8) need two more league wins to earn a district playoff berth.
Follweiler 2-1-2-7, Hams 3-1-2-7, Bastardi 1-0-0-2, Weil 0-0-0-0, Olewine 1-1-2-3, Tarafas 0-0-0-0, Oertner 4-7-12-15. TOTALS: 11-10-18-34.
Mertz 2-0-1-4, Landrigan 1-0-0-3, Jones 5-8-10-19, Kemmerer 2-0-2-4, MacLaughlin 2-0-0-6, Cunningham 1-1-5-3, Segan 4-2-4-10. TOTALS: 17-11-12-49.
No. Lehigh 9 8 8 9 – 34
Northwestern 14 6 13 16 – 49
Three-pointers – NL: Follweiler 2; NW: MacLaughlin 2, Landrigan 1, Jones 1.