TOWNSEND -- If North Middlesex girls' basketball coach Pat Murphy was to address his major concern going into Thursday night's home opener, it was probably the outside shooting of his opponent.
Tyngsboro plays a unique style based on pressure and quick shots and does not mind putting up the first open three-pointer that presents itself. What Murphy couldn't have expected was for his Patriots to have so much trouble on the boards.
The Tigers had an off night from the field, hitting just 29 percent of their shots, including just 22 percent from three-point range, but it was the number of shots that proved to be the difference. Tyngsboro grabbed 25 offensive rebounds, leading to a 73-44 advantage in field-goal attempts and keying a 51-43 nonleague victory over North Middlesex.
"We made a lot of mistakes tonight, especially on the boards," said Murphy. "You can't let a good team continuously get chance after chance on offense, but that is what happened. When a team takes 29 more shots than you, chances are you aren't going to win, and we didn't."
Over the first eight minutes, neither offense could get much going as the teams combined for just 14 points. A Maddie Balassie three-pointer gave the Patriots a 7-2 lead, but a layup by Stephanie D'Annolfo and a trey from Amanda Hogan tied the game at 7-7 after a quarter of play.
While North Middlesex did a good job of taking care of the ball in the opening quarter and getting the game played at its preferred pace, that changed in the second quarter, when the Tigers blew the game open.
Tyngsboro exploded for 26 points, hitting 11 of 24 shots as six different players scored at least three points. Samantha Trearchis led the way with six points, while Hogan and Corey Le added five each, but the key to the offensive explosion was 10 Patriot turnovers that led to 12 points. When Emily McPadden knocked down a three-pointer in the closing seconds, it gave the Tigers a 33-21 advantage heading into the half.
"I thought in the first quarter we made them play our pace and we had good things going," said Murphy. "Then, in the second quarter, we kind of lost our footing and it seemed one mistake led to another, which led to another. We got into a running game and that was something we couldn't afford to do."
Midway through the third quarter, the lead had grown to 41-24 and it seemed the game was slipping out of reach for North Middlesex, but the hosts answered back. A 16-3 run covering the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth quarter made it a close game.
Mackensey Farina and Balassie scored five points apiece, while Julia Murray added a 10-foot jumper off a Brittani LeBlanc feed that cut the lead to 44-40 with five minutes to play.
A banked-in three-pointer by Hogan pushed the lead to seven, but Farina hit a pair of free throws to make it a five-point game. The Patriots had a chance to make it a one-possession game, but turned the ball over for a 23rd and final time. Le capitalized by turning the mistake into points with a layup and the game never got closer as Tyngsboro moved to 2-0 on the season.
"We made a great run to get back into it and had some chances to get closer, but we just couldn't do it," said Murphy. "There are a lot of good things to take out of this and it is nice to face a stiff test this early to measure where you are as a team. We will build from this and get better for it."
Farina led the way for North Middlesex with 14 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. Balassie finished with 12 points and seven boards. Kim Morgan chipped in eight points, while Ashley Rosko added five.