CENTER VALLEY- Northwestern head coach Chris Deutsch stressed that this was just a regular season game that his Lady Tigers won Tuesday night.
He may be correct, but it certainly had a championship atmosphere.
Northwestern (6-0 CL, 10-0 overall) defeated Southern Lehigh 58-53 in a match-up that brought the two division leaders in the Colonial League on to the same court.
The Lady Spartans (6-1, 8-4) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first and held the lead for much of the contest as they distanced themselves from the Lady Tigers and took a 26-17 halftime lead.
Southern Lehigh kept Northwestern in check early with heavy pressure on senior Sabrina Mertz and sophomore Erika Thomas, only allowing them to register four and 11 points, respectively.
The Lady Spartans opened up the second half with two straight turnovers that foreshadowed a momentum swing that was to come later. Before the push by Northwestern, the Lady Tigers found themselves down 31-20 with 5:46 left in the third, their largest deficit this season.
"It is great to get a win knowing that," said Deutsch of trailing in the game. "The game is never over. It is great that our girls never quit and never got rattled. They have to believe in one another and I think this team really does."
Northwestern, led by junior Sarah Segan with 15 points and one rebound, chipped away at Southern Lehigh's lead and went on an 8-0 run over the last two minutes of the third quarter to cut it to one as they trailed 37-36.
The Lady Tigers captured their first lead of the contest after a three from sophomore Megan Landrigan (eight points, seven rebounds) made it 42-41 with 5:23 left in the game.
Neither team's lead exceeded five points for the rest of the game as Southern Lehigh's offense couldn't fight back as senior Madelene McDonald, who surpassed 1,000 career points last week, fouled out with 17 seconds left, but not before scoring 19, which led all Lady Spartans.
Solid free throw shooting preserved the lead as sophomore Mikaela Koenig (6 points, 2 rebounds) drained two foul shots with 3.3 seconds left to secure the Lady Tigers' undefeated record for one more game.
Although they came out victorious, Segan gave a lot of credit to Southern Lehigh.
"There are a lot of good teams in the Colonial League, but they are the best team we've seen thus far," she said. "They obviously are really tough competition and coming out with the win was great."
Deutsch discussed the change in his team in the second half.
"We told the other girls that it is time for them to step up. We are challenging new girls to score. We asked them to step up and I think they did. I think it was a good, balanced, team win. I think everyone that came in did their job tonight."
It was their job well done that keeps the Lady Tigers at the top of the Colonial League.
Mertz 1-1-4-4, Landrigan 2-2-2-8, Day 0-0-0-0, Segan 6-3-4-15, Koenig 1-4-4-6, Bennett 1-0-0-2, Thomas 3-3-6-11, Cunningham 4-4-9-12, Anderson 0-0-0-0. Totals: 18-17-31-58
Cerciello 2-0-0-5, Amory 1-2-2-5, Jurgens 0-0-2-0, Koziel 0-0-0-0, Saraceno 0-0-0-0, S. Cyr 1-0-0-2, Campbell 5-0-0-10, McDonald 7-5-6-19, Prince 5-2-4-12, J. Cyr 0-0-0-0. Totals: 21-9-14-53
Northwestern 6 11 19 22 - 58
So. Lehigh 8 18 11 16 - 53
Three-Pointers: NW- Mertz 1, Landrigan 2, Thomas 2; SL- Cerciello 1, Amory 1