It was just a two-minute stretch.
But for all intents and purposes it meant the ballgame.
Locked in a tight contest with its Colonial League rival, Northern Lehigh upped its defensive pressure at the end of the first half. The move led to a huge run that gave the Bulldogs a lead and control. It also gave them their first victory of the season, a 63-51 decision over Northwestern.
"We thought it was important to change the momentum of the game especially right before halftime and I think we were able to do that with what we call our 'scramble'," said Northern Lehigh head coach Jeff Miller. "We got some big turnovers and some easy buckets off of it and we had a nice run, especially in the final minute.
"We're probably a little quicker than we've been the last couple years. We're going to pick our spots, but we're going to turn up the pressure a little bit at times."
Most of the first two quarters were back and forth as the two clubs combined for five ties and eight lead changes. The last tie came when Aaron Hofmann hit a free throw with 2:03 until the break, knotting the score at 19-19. Hofmann later added an inside bucket for the final lead change.
Matt Egan, who finished with a game-high 26 points, knocked down a pair of free throws and followed that with a bucket underneath. Pressure forced a turnover which resulted in a Tyler Dibilio bucket, while Taz McNair's loose ball recovery and shot before the buzzer ended an 11-0 run that sent the Bulldogs to the locker room with a 29-19 advantage.
"That was the ballgame right there," said Northwestern mentor Dan Eddinger. "We didn't recover from it. It was an even game the rest of the way. We just had a bad stretch there. We lost our focus for two minutes. We tried to do too much one-on-one and it resulted in some quick ones for them. We're just not a good enough defensive team right now to overcome that."
After Northern Lehigh (1-1; 1-0) built the margin to 13 points seconds into the fourth quarter on a David Shupp driving basket, the Tigers (1-3; 0-2) actually did try to overcome the deficit.
A three-pointer by Josh Williamson, who netted a team-high 16 points, started a 10-3 spurt that cut the gap to six points with over four minutes to play.
But Dibilio nailed a trey that began a 9-2 Nolehi stretch that sealed the win.
"The difference between this year and last year so far is last year when we needed a stop we were able to get it," said Eddinger. "This year we haven't been able to get a stop. If you want to win basketball games and make districts you have to make plays when the time comes. We had it to six points, had momentum and the crowd was into it. But then we turn it over and they get a three-point play - ballgame over."
"That Northwestern team is never going to quit," said Miller. "We knew they'd make a run and we were hoping we'd weather it and we did. We hit some big buckets to end the run. Tyler hit a big three ... and Matt got to the rim a couple times after that."
Besides Egan's 26 points, he also added nine rebounds. Dibilio ended with 12 points while Josh Landsberger contributed 11 points and 14 boards.
Northwestern did get a win in the JV game, cruising to a 47-18 victory.
M. Egan 9-8-10-26, Dibilio 5-1-3-12, Shupp 1-0-0-2, McNair 2-2-7-6, J. Egan 1-0-0-3, Hofman 1-1-2-3, Landsberger 5-1-4-11. TOTALS: 24-13-26-63.
Archer 0-0-0-0, Williamson 6-2-2-16, Mengel 0-0-0-0, Jones 2-0-0-6, Breininger 1-2-2-4, Breidinger 3-1-2-7, Schwartz 3-1-2-9, Maurer 0-0-0-0, Shuey 1-0-0-2, Richardson 1-0-3-3, Markovitch 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 19-6-11-51.
No. Lehigh 7 22 16 18 - 63
Northwestern 8 11 15 17 - 51
Three-pointers: No. Lehigh - J. Egan 1, Dibilio 1; Northwestern - Williamson 2, Jones 2, Schwartz 2, Richardson 1.