BANGOR – The Lady Slaters have been looking for a statement win. They got it Tuesday night with a 50-40 win over previously unbeaten Northwestern.
"It was a big game for us," said Bangor head coach Bill Bisci. "We needed a game to set the tone for the next two or three weeks. We've beaten every team in the Colonial League except Southern Lehigh and that's who we play in the first round of the playoffs."
The Slaters (17-4 overall, 13-2 Colonial League) set the tone with defense, leading the whole way and holding off several charges from Northwestern.
Bangor's biggest lead of the second half came at the end of the third quarter, 35-23.
The Tigers (20-1, 14-1) made a fourth-quarter run to cut their deficit to five. A Trista Cunningham three-point play and a pair of three pointers by Erika Thomas make it 37-32. Kaleen Suter's basket with 3:22 left in the game cut Bangor's lead to 38-34, the smallest margin since the Slaters led 4-0.
Morgan McCollian, Bangor's recent 1,000-point scorer, made a pair of baskets to push the lead back up to 43-35 with 1:21 to play.
The Slaters went 7 for 8 at the foul line in the final minute to seal the win.
"They dictated the style of play," said Northwestern head coach Chris Deutsch. "It was a very aggressive, physical game, which we figured it would be.
"This might be good for us. Everybody is talking about this undefeated thing. This eases that up a bit. It's hard to be perfect all the time. Now we can relax and just go out and play."
Bangor jumped out to a 9-0 first-quarter lead, forcing turnovers on each of Northwestern's first four possessions. Northwestern committed six turnovers in the game's first 2:24 and nine in the first half while going 1 for 10 from the field.
Bangor's defense led to plenty of opportunities. The Slaters made five of 17 shots in the first quarter, jumping out to a 14-2 lead.
Northwestern made a run to cut the lead to 14-9 early in the second quarter, but a Brianna Bisci three pointer ended the 6-0 run. Bisci scored 10 points and dished out three assists in the game.
The Slaters pushed their lead up to 23-9 in the second quarter and went to halftime up 26-16.
"They played very well," said Deutsch. "They executed well. They played good defense. They made us work for everything we got. They were more physical than we were tonight."
The Tigers played the game without starting guard/forward Sarah Segan, who is out with a knee injury. Her return in return for the playoffs is possible, but not definite, Deutsch said.
McCollian, a 6-foot center, scored a team-high 12 points while gathering 10 rebounds. Her presence inside made it difficult for the Tigers to go the basket.
The Tigers cut the lead to 26-19 on Thomas three-pointer early in the third quarter, but Bangor increased its lead with a 9-1 run over the final 5:33 of the third period.
Thomas scored a team-high 12 points for Northwestern.
Both teams head into next week's league playoffs. The Tigers will be the top seed and take on Notre Dame (Green Pond). The Slaters will face Southern Lehigh. Both games will be played Wednesday at a site to be announced.
Mertz 1-2-4-5, Landrigan 1-0-0-2, Day 0-0-0-0, Jones 3-2-2-9, Suter 1-1-6-3, Koenig 0-0-0-0, Bennett 0-0-0-0, Thomas 4-0-0-12, Cunningham 3-3-5-9, Anderson 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-8-17-40.
Smith 0-0-0-0, Vass 0-0-0-0, Renna 1-0-0-3, Domenech 2-1-2-6, McNew 0-0-0-0, Livingston 0-0-0-0, N. Baker 0-1-2-1, Green 0-0-0-0, Zungolo 2-5-7-9, Colton 1-7-10-9, Bisci 3-3-5-10, C. Baker 0-0-0-0, Zoe Kallus 0-0-0-0, Wilkins 0-0-0-0, McCollian 5-2-5-12, King 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-19-31-50.
Northwestern 2 14 7 17 – 40
Bangor 14 12 9 15 – 50
Three-pointers: NW – Thomas 4, Mertz 1, Jones 1; B – Renna 1, Domenech 1, Bisci 1.