Foul trouble took a major bite out of the Purple Tigers on Wednesday night.
Northwestern's boys basketball team grabbed nine steals in the first half of its season opener, as it caused Madison-Grant fits with full-court pressure, building a 32-19 lead by halftime.
But the starting backcourt duo of Graham Ortmann and Blaine Brutus both picked up three fouls in the first half, and were saddled with their fourth fouls early in the third quarter. With the two as spectators for crucial stretches of the second half, the Argylls chipped away little by little, taking their first lead with 33 seconds to play before hanging on to take a 52-50 victory.
"We were in foul trouble all night long, and it really put some weird combinations on the floor for us," Northwestern coach Jim Gish said. "Combinations we're not used to seeing because we had to play different guys in different spots. But that's on us. Our rotations were slow and our recognition was even slower. And, at times I thought we were flat-footed [Wednesday] night, and I'm not sure why."
Ortmann hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, and Tyler Hudson added six points as Northwestern jumped to a 20-16 lead through eight minutes. The Tigers' press took its toll on the Argylls in the second quarter, in particular, where Northwestern grabbed five steals and held M-G without a field goal on just six attempts from the field. With Ortmann and Brutus out of action, reserve guard Evan Matlock scored eight points in the first half, including five in the second quarter as the Tigers outscored the Argylls 12-3 in the second stanza.
"We went on a run, and I think it stemmed from our defensive effort," Gish said. "When we play the type of defense we can play, we're a lot of fun to watch. But, I think probably the story of the game was we ended up with 25 turnovers. That might be the most valuable thing for Madison-Grant that we went 25 times without getting a shot. ...That's something we have to look at and fix, because you can't give away 25 possessions in 32 minutes of a high school basketball game and expect to win."