Jan. 23—FROSTBURG — Mountain Ridge couldn't seem to string anything together in the first half Monday, but it hit its stride late in the third quarter.
The Miners turned up their pressure defense to speed up Northern, and it fed into easy baskets in transition as Mountain Ridge controlled the fourth quarter 19-9 to pull away from the Huskies and cruise to a 65-47 victory.
"I'm glad we got out of there with a win. It wasn't pretty," Mountain Ridge head coach Tim Nightengale said. "We had some good things happen. We had some things where we didn't take care of the ball. We had 17 turnovers and several catches we didn't make. Our passing was sloppy. We missed some easy baskets, especially in the first half.
"But we created separation towards the end of the third and into the fourth, and that was from our pressure defense. We were able to capitalize in transition."
Mountain Ridge got back to .500 with the victory at 6-6 and improved to 2-2 in the Western Maryland Athletic Conference. Northern dropped to 5-7 overall and 0-5 in the WestMAC.
The Miners played well early, as Owen McGeady and Will Patterson hit first-quarter 3-pointers to give their team an 18-10 edge after one, but Northern hung around.
Northern's Liam Stewart buried a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter, and Mountain Ridge couldn't get its offense going. The Miners led 30-24 at the half.
However, the Miners got out on the fast break in the second half. One notable run-out ended with a two-handed dunk from Cameron Breighner with around two minutes to play in the third period.
Mountain Ridge led just 42-36 before the flush, which appeared to give the Miners momentum as they pulled ahead 46-38 entering the fourth and built a double-digit edge quickly in the decider.
"We're just trying to play four quality quarters," Nightengale said. "A good start to each quarter, and a good strong finish to each quarter. That was the game plan for tonight.
"We started out pretty decent but we fell off. You're going to find those ebbs and flows in games, but we need to find a more consistent balance."
Breighner ended with a game-high 17 points. He was one of four Miners in double figures alongside Patterson (13), McGeady (12) and Ian Duncan (12).
Abe Schilpp led the way for Northern with 13 points, and Kyle Broadwater and Stewart added nine apiece. Stewart scored all of his points on a trio of triples.
Mountain Ridge won the junior varsity game 57-30. Levi Clise (18 points), Carter Clites (16) and John Delaney (10) led the Miners' JVs. Caleb Hinebaugh paced the Huskies with 17.
Mountain Ridge returns to the court Wednesday at Keyser at 7:30 p.m. Northern was at Fort Hill on Tuesday night and hosts Meyersdale on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
"Good team win for us," Nightengale said. "We just need to get back in the gym (Tuesday) now that we don't have any more snow and get better."
Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.