Despite a huge early deficit, the door was open for Northwestern to close the gap and challenge Catasauqua for the win.

The Tigers cut what was once a 19-point Catasauqua lead down to less than 10 three times in the third quarter before falling 63-49 to the Rough Riders Thursday night in New Tripoli.

"We missed a lot of lay ups and free throws," said Northwestern head coach Dan Eddinger. "We had blown assignments on defense. You can't do that and expect to be in a game. You can't spot a team a 15-2 lead. It's very frustrating on a lot of levels."

The Roughies led 15-2 after a quarter and 18-2 early in the second. Senior center Jarrid Strong scored all of his nine points in the first quarter. When Northwestern center Jarred Binder went to the bench with two fouls midway through the first period, the Roughies relied on dumping the ball inside to Strong.

"He wanted the ball tonight and he was making good strong moves with it," said Catasauqua head coach Eric Snyder.

Catty (5-3 overall, 4-1 Colonial League) pushed its lead as high as 25-6 with two minutes left in the second half before the Tigers (4-6, 2-3) started to make a comeback.

A pair of Rich Perry baskets at the end of the second quarter cut the lead to 14 points. The Tigers could have made more of a dent, but they went 1-for-7 from the foul line in the second period and 8-for-19 in the game.

Perry (team-high 12 points) scored four more points as part of a 6-0 run that cut the Roughies' lead to 30-21 with 4:29 to play in the third quarter.

When Strong went down with an injury early in the second half, it seemed like the Tigers might have new life. Catty was already playing the game without sixth man Paryss Marshall, who was at an Under Armor football all star showcase.

The Tigers had the lead down to eight points, 35-27, late in the third. But Derrick Bond hit two clutch three-pointers in the final minute and a half to give his team a 41-31 lead heading into the fourth.

"They're missing Marshall and Strong goes out for a quarter and a half and we can't cut the lead," said Eddinger. "It's a little disheartening."

The Roughies' lead stayed at 10 or more through the fourth quarter.

"I think we played well enough to win," said the Catty's Tony Brinkley, who scored a game-high 14 points. "We could have played better. The first quarter we only gave up two points. You can't play much better defense like that. If we could play every half like that I think we'd be well on our way to leagues and districts."

The Tigers were often out of position on defense, gave up six three-point play attempts to Catty in the game. The Roughies converted on three of their and-one attempts.

Catasauqua seems to be getting better as its football players get into basketball shape. They were not a preseason favorite to contend for a league playoff spot, but are right in the thick of the race nearly half way through the season.

"We use that as motivation," said Brinkley. "Halfway through the season they have another projection and we're still below Northern Lehigh, who we beat."

CATASAUQUA

Edwards 2-2-3-7, Burton 0-0-0-0, Wetherhold 1-0-0-2, Purrone 3-2-4-9, Wells 1-0-0-2, Bond 4-1-1-11, Biviano 0-0-0-0, Brinkley 6-2-3-14, Parker 4-1-5-9, Strong 4-1-1-9. TOTALS: 25-9-17-63.

NORTHWESTERN

Wagner 1-2-6-4, Williamson 3-2-4-8, Schuler 1-0-0-3, T. Richardson 2-1-4-6, J. Betz 0-0-0-0, Breidinger 2-1-2-6, Perry 6-0-0-12, C. Richardson 0-0-0-0, Binder 4-2-2-10. TOTALS: 19-8-18-49.

Catasauqua 15 12 14 22 – 63

Northwestern 2 11 18 18 – 49

Three-pointers: C – Bond 2, Edwards 1, Purrone 1; NW – Schuler 1, T. Richardson 1, Breidinger 1. The Roughies converted on three of their and-one attempts.

Catasauqua seems to be getting better as its football players get into basketball shape. They were not a preseason favorite to contend for a league playoff spot, but are right in the thick of the race nearly half way through the season.

"We use that as motivation," said Brinkley. "Halfway through the season they have another projection and we're still below Northern Lehigh, who we beat."

CATASAUQUA

Edwards 2-2-3-7, Burton 0-0-0-0, Wetherhold 1-0-0-2, Purrone 3-2-4-9, Wells 1-0-0-2, Bond 4-1-1-11, Biviano 0-0-0-0, Brinkley 6-2-3-14, Parker 4-1-5-9, Strong 4-1-1-9. TOTALS: 25-9-17-63.

NORTHWESTERN

Wagner 1-2-6-4, Williamson 3-2-4-8, Schuler 1-0-0-3, T. Richardson 2-1-4-6, J. Betz 0-0-0-0, Breidinger 2-1-2-6, Perry 6-0-0-12, C. Richardson 0-0-0-0, Binder 4-2-2-10. TOTALS: 19-8-18-49.

Catasauqua 15 12 14 22 – 63

Northwestern 2 11 18 18 – 49

Three-pointers: C – Bond 2, Edwards 1, Purrone 1; NW – Schuler 1, T. Richardson 1, Breidinger 1.