On Wednesday Northern Lehigh head coach Rich Oertner asked his team to improve its defense. And it responded Thursday.
The Bulldogs gave their best defensive performance of the season Thursday in New Tripoli, beating Northwestern 74-39.
"We had a serious talk yesterday about playing defense," Oertner said. "We're going to worry more about defense than offense."
The Bulldogs (2-2, 1-1) forced six first quarter turnovers and held Northwestern to 0-for-16 shooting in the first eight minutes. They were ahead 21-2 when Kevin Oxley made the Tigers' first field goal with 7:03 left in the second quarter.
That start helped erase the memory of being outscored 21-13 in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's 59-57 loss to Bangor.
"We lost a close one and we got to come out here and redeem ourselves," said Bulldog senior Evan Biegley.
In Thursday's win, Northern Lehigh got early scoring from Jordan Waylen, who poured in 13 of his 18 points in the first nine minutes of the game. Waylen also had six assists in he game, three in his big first quarter.
The Bulldog big men took over from there. Nick Pappas scored 16 of his 18 points in the middle two periods. Biegley scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the second half.
"Me and Evan have been working the whole offseason together," said 6-foo-t-5 Pappas, who collected 15 rebounds, blocked two shots and went 6-for-6 at the foul line.
"Nick and I both definitely improved since last season," said Biegley, who is 6-3. "We hit the weight room hard in the offseason."
Northern Lehigh took a 36-20 lead into halftime, but Oertner wasn't happy that the Tigers (2-2, 1-1) were able to score 13 points in the final 4:09 of the second quarter.
"We came into the locker room leading by 16 and we reamed them out," he said. "They came out in the third quarter and did exactly what a coach wants. They passed the ball more in the third quarter than they passed the ball all year. As a result the big guys got lay ups inside."
Northern Lehigh had five assists and eight field goals on 14 shots in the third quarter, which Oertner said was the best eight minutes his team has played this season. They outscored the Tigers 20-5 in the period and were ahead 56-25 heading into the fourth quarter.
Northwestern made 13 of 48 shots in the game, while Northern Lehigh connected on 29 of 59 shots.
Tiger head coach BJ Dugan said his team's offensive struggles might have effected its defensive effort. Unlike Ortner, he was far from pleased with his team's defense.
"We were not good on the defensive end of the floor," he said. "It's something we emphasize in practice every day. it is the key to us being a good team instead of an average team."
Seremula 3-0-1-6, Hahn 0-0-0-0, Pritash 0-0-0-0, Glose 2-2-2-7, Waylen 8-1-1-18, Malaska 0-2-2-2, Rankin 0-0-0-0, Everhart 0-0-0-0, Hoffman 0-0-0-0, Biegley 8-3-4-19, Pappas 6-6-6-18, Pierce 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 29-14-16-74.
Lerner 3-0-1-6, Hagle 0-0-0-0, Rivera 1-0-0-2, Roth 2-0-0-5, Koenig 3-2-3-8, Oxley 1-2-2-5, German 2-1-4-5, Collopy 0-0-0-0, Storm 0-0-0-0, Conway 1-0-0-3, Wagner 0-1-2-0, Betz 0-4-8-4, de Bruijn 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-10-20-39.
Northern Lehigh 17 19 20 18 - 74
Northwestern 1 19 5 14 - 39
Three-pointers - NL: Glose 1, Waylen 1; NW: Roth 1, Oxley 1, Conway 1.