One of the Cardinal Rules of sports is to never take an opponent lightly.
Northwestern might have expected an easy time against a Palisades team that headed into this week winless for the season. But the Tigers fell victim to the visiting Purple Pirates, who went on a 24-0 run in the second half and took home a 41-26 win.
"This one's extremely frustrating," said Northwestern head coach Dan Eddinger. "We walked into this gym expecting to win tonight and we just didn't do it. We were bad in all facets of the game tonight."
After shooting 3 for 15 from the field and going 3 for 10 from the foul line in the first half, Palisades was down just 13-12 at halftime. The Tigers seemed in control early in the second half, stretching their lead to 24-16 on a pair of Jarred Binder free throws with 3:11 left in the third quarter.
But Northwestern (2-13, 1-8) didn't score for the next 10 minutes and 30 seconds. The Pirates ended the third quarter on a 10-0 run, taking the lead on O'Keefe Pastrone's basket with no time left on the third quarter clock.
The Pirates forced eight Tiger turnovers in the fourth quarter while stretching their lead to 41-24 with 57 seconds left in the game.
"We went on a 24-0 run," said Pirate point guard Tom Corsello. "It was all our press. They couldn't get past our press."
Northwestern got off just six shots in the fourth quarter while the Palisades made 5 of 7 shots in the period. A Matt Rivera basket in the final minute kept Northwestern from going scoreless in the fourth quarter.
"We didn't handle the pressure again," said Eddinger. "We turned it over 28 times tonight against zone pressure. They know what to do against it, we just didn't do it."
Palisades (2-13, 1-9) was coming off its first win of the season as it beat Plumstead Christian Monday night. Tuesday's win was the first Colonial League victory for the team since they beat Palmerton on Jan. 25 of 2011.
For one half it looked like the Pirates' first win streak of the season wasn't to be. They had trouble stopping 6-foot-6 junior Jarred Binder, who scored a Tigers team-high 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
But in the second half Palisades turned up its defensive intensity.
"When I came in at halftime, I could tell they were upset with themselves," said Palisades head coach Mike Viglianti. "To their credit, they really played well in the second half. They made some free throws, cut down on our turnovers. The energy on defense really got us momentum. Guys were hustling back."
Aldan Mueller led the Pirates' second-half scoring surge. He picked up 11 of his game-high 13 points after halftime and nine in the fourth quarter.
Eddinger thought his players underestimated their opponent and didn't match the Pirates match the Pirates intensity.
"They thought they were going to come and take this one," he said. "It's just not that simple."
Caughney 0-0-0-0, Corsello 1-0-0-2, Spencer 3-0-2-6, Yashinski 0-0-3-0, Orecchio 3-1-2-8, Pastrone 1-2-4-4, Snyder 0-0-0-0, Mueller 4-5-9-13, Krchnavi 3-2-8-8, Thompson 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 15-10-28-41.
Wagner 0-0-0-0, Schuler 0-0-0-0, T. Richardson 0-0-0-0, Maher 1-0-0-2, Rivera 3-0-1-8, Perry 0-0-0-0, Binder 5-2-3-12, Bachman 2-0-2-4, C. Richardson 0-0-0-0, Deangelo 0-0-0-0, Williamson 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 11-2-6-26.
Palisades 6 6 14 15 – 41
Northwestern 8 5 11 2 – 26
Three-pointers – P: Orecchio 1; N: Rivera 2.