Northwestern Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY MIKE FEIFEL Trista Cunningham scored 22 points in Monday's win over Liberty. PRESS PHOTO BY MIKE FEIFEL Trista Cunningham scored 22 points in Monday's win over Liberty.

Lady Tigers battle back to beat Liberty, 58-54

Thursday, December 26, 2013 by TYLER TRUMBAUER Special to The Press in HS Sports

It didn't look good for the Lady Tigers on Monday afternoon.

The girls were trailing the Liberty Hurricanes (2-1, 2-2) by seven with 4:14 left and without senior point guard Sabrina Mertz. As a team, the girls were shaky from the free throw line for most of the game.

Fortunately for the Lady Tigers, sophomores Megan Landrigan and Erika Thomas made two clutch three-pointers and Thomas went 5-for-8 from the foul line in the last 90 seconds of the game, allowing Northwestern (5-0, 8-0) to flip the script and pull out a 58-54 victory Monday afternoon at Northwestern Lehigh High School.

"This is a good nonleague win for us," said Tiger head coach Chris Deutsch. "I told our girls that this was our best win this year up to this point. In my opinion, with the competition we played, it was our best win this year by far."

The Lady Tigers looked shaky from the start in the absence of Mertz (sprained MCL), but found were only down 9-8 after the first quarter.

The game remained tight for the remainder of the first half with the largest lead for any team being six. Senior Trista Cunningham scored seven of her 22 total points in the second quarter to keep it close as the Lady Tigers were only down 25-22 heading into half time.

The close battle continued in the third with Northwestern trailing as back-to-back three-pointers by Thomas (17 points) allowed the Lady Tigers to cling to their two-point lead heading into the fourth.

"It was a real intense game," said Thomas. "It was really emotional. I think with the help of the student section it got everyone motivated. We used that to our advantage."

Northwestern trailed by seven and struggling to come back as the team made just 21 of 37 free throws. The Tigers managed to fight back and Thomas's free throw shooting late, along with three straight Liberty turnovers, allowed Northwestern to hold on for the victory.

allowed Northwestern to hold on for the victory.

"I thought our girls showed a lot of grit and guts today," said Deutsch of his team's play. "In the fourth, we were down 49-42 and Landrigan came down and hit a big three.

"We finally made some free throws in crunch time and we escaped."

Deutsch also mentioned that there is not exact timetable for Mertz's return, but he seemed optimistic that she would be ready for their next game, which is January 3 when the girls host Wilson.