Offensive droughts have plagued Northwestern all season. And they were the cause of the Tigers' problems again Friday night.
Northwestern made just two field goals over the first 15 minutes of the second half as visiting Pen Argyl came from behind to win 48-37.
After giving up 21 points in the first quarter, the Knights allowed less than that for the next three.
"We came out pretty bad," said Pen Argyl's Kyle Muller, who scored 15 points in the game. "We picked it up. We only gave up 16 points in the last three quarters combined. We turned up the defense."
Despite playing without their second-leading scorer and top-three point shooter, Ryan Pipher, who was out with an ankle injury, the Knights made eight of 13 three-point attempts in the game.
"They hit some shots and we didn't," said Northwestern head coach Dan Eddinger. "They were able to hit three-ball against us and force us out of the zone. We were able to touch them pretty good in man and force them into zone."
The Tigers grabbed the early lead and had it up 23-12 on a Payton Bachman basket with 7:19 left in the second quarter, capping a 16-3 Northwestern run.
Pen Argyl closed the gap over the rest of the first half. Austin Bender scored eight of his game-high 16 points over the final four minutes of the quarter. His three-pointer with 2:18 left cut the Northwestern lead to 25-24 before a Jarred Binder basket ended a 12-2 run by the Knights.
"I had a feeling we were going to be flat," said Pen Argyl head coach Coy Stampone. "When we played them at home we got out to a big lead. That wasn't the true Northwestern team. They came out really hard [Friday]. Our guys thought they could just go through the motions. We found out after the first quarter that it was going to be a tough battle."
Pen Argyl went ahead for good on Kristopher Wentzell's three-pointer with 4:47 left in the third quarter. He was one of three players with 12 or more points for his team.
The Knights (6-10 overall, 4-8 overall) clamped down on defense in the second half, allowing just two field goals in the third quarter and holding Northwestern without a fourth-quarter basket until the last 39 seconds of the game.
The Tigers (1-11, 2-16) were still behind by just a basket heading into the fourth quarter, 34-33.
When the Knights took a 38-33 lead with 4:47 left in the game, they were able to slow things down to protect their lead. They went 8 for 8 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
After struggling to get off shots (2-for-7 shooting) and turning the ball over six times in the third quarter, Northwestern was able to hoist up plenty of attempts in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers went 0 for 8 from three-point range in the final period and 2 for 11 from the field.
"That's what happens with this team," said Eddinger. "We just don't seem to hit a jumper and when the teams creep back in it we don't seem to get good shots."
Muller, Pen Argyl's leading scorer for the season, is now just 29 points away from 1,000 career points.
Northwestern's Payton Bachman scored a team-high 11 points.
Northwestern won the JV game, 47-36.
Houck 0-0-0-0, Dyer 1-0-0-3, Muller 4-5-6-15, Wentzell 3-5-6-12, Bender 5-2-2-16, Nied 0-0-0-0, Gillette 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 14-12-14-48.
Wagner 0-0-0-0, Hadian 1-1-2-3, Richardson 2-0-0-5, Maher 2-2-3-6, Rivera 2-2-2-6, Binder 2-2-4-6, Bachman 5-1-2-11, Deangelo 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-8-13-37.
Pen Argyl 12 13 9 14 – 48
Northwestern 21 7 5 4 – 37
Three-pointers – PA: Bender 4, Muller 2, Dyer 1, Wentzell 1; NW: Richardson 1.