For one half, Salisbury gave Northwestern all it could handle Thursday night in New Tripoli. But when the Lady Tigers clamped down on defense in the second half, they pulled away for a 47-38 win.
"We knew we had to pick it up in the second half," said freshman guard Sabrina Mertz. "We did that. We came out really aggressive and that's what we needed to do."
Holding a 25-21 lead at halftime, Northwestern forced nine Falcon turnovers in the first six minutes of the second half. The defense sparked an 18-0 run and got the Tigers a 43-21 lead with 2:11 left in the third quarter.
Five different NW players scored in the quarter and four players had nine or more points in the game, including Mertz's game-high 12.
"I think we're at our best when we have balanced scoring," said Northwestern head coach Chris Deutcsh. "This year we have girls that will step up and hit the shots."
Mertz also had six rebounds and five steals, with many of her points coming off Falcon turnovers.
"In our pressure defense we have Sabrina up front," Deutsch said. "She creates a lot of turnovers and steals. When she gets around the basket she can finish."
The Tigers (10-2; 6-2) not only had balanced scoring, but also a balanced stat sheet.
Trista Cunningham scored all nine of her points during the third-quarter outburst. The sophomore made four of five shots in the game despite spending a few first-half minutes on the bench with foul trouble.
Sara Jones and Sarah Seagan helped the Tigers to an early lead. Segan scored seven of her nine points in the first quarter and Jones had five of her nine in the opening period. Jones and Segan also led the team with nine rebounds apiece.
Northwestern was coming off its second loss, a 53-52 setback to Southern Lehigh in which the Tigers led most of the game until the Spartans hit a three-pointer in the final 10 seconds.
That loss had some lingering effects on Thursday as Northwestern trailed Salisbury by a basket for most of the first quarter.
The Tigers took their first lead, 13-11 with 1:31 left in the first quarter, when Segan scored seven straight points in an 11-0 run.
The Falcons (6-6, 3-5) trailed the rest of the way, but kept it close in the second quarter despite making just one field goal and going 2 for 10 from the line.
But they didn't score for the first 6:32 of the second half and headed into the fourth quarter behind by 20.
"We didn't score until down near the end of the third quarter," said Falcon head coach Bob Mazziotta. "I thought we executed well early. But I think we get tired."
The win keeps Northwestern in second place in the Colonial League's North Division and in position to secure a wild card playoff berth.
"I thought we did well with the first half of the Colonial League schedule against the teams in our division," said Deutsch. "We've got to win these cross-division games. These games are huge right now. "
Ferrol 1-0-0-2, Hrebik 3-3-9-9, Watkins 1-0-1-2, Eripret 5-0-0-10, Rowlands 1-0-0-2, Greenholt 0-0-1-0, Hoats 0-0-0-0, Toman 0-2-2-2, Szita 0-0-0-0, Undercuffler 3-3-4-9, Garrigan 1-0-2-2. TOTALS: 15-8-19-38.
Mertz 4-4-9-12, Landrigan 1-0-0-3, Jones 4-0-1-9, Kemmerer 2-1-2-5, Nemes 0-0-0-0, Heydlauf 0-0-0-0, Cunnigham 4-1-3-9, Dietrich 0-0-0-0, Albright 0-0-0-0, Segan 4-0-0-9. TOTALS: 19-6-15-47.
Salisbury 11 10 4 13 – 38
Northwestern 18 7 20 2 – 47
Three-pointers: Salisbury – none; NW – Landrigan 1, Jones 1, Segan 1.