MARION — Foul trouble is the bane of every basketball coach, and it cropped up its ugly head for the Mason County Eastern girls basketball team in Friday night’s Western Michigan D League game at Marion.

The Cardinals struggled with fouls from the opening tip, and it created all kinds of problems for them which they never were able to solve, leading to a 49-29 loss, their third straight.

Eastern fell to 3-4 overall and 3-3 in the WMD, while the Eagles improved to 4-1 and 4-0 respectively.

“Early foul trouble threw off our substitution rotation, and that led to getting some unfavorable rebounding matchups,” said Eastern head coach Jake Smith.

“We battled hard with Marion for rebounds, but they went to the glass aggressively. We didn’t protect the ball well, (and) our turnovers were up from our season average.”

Struggles at the free throw didn’t help the Cardinals, either. It led to a big discrepancy in scoring in the second and third quarters, and the Cardinals couldn’t recover.

Eastern actually led, 9-6 at the end of the first quarter. But the Eagles outscored the Cardinals, 20-10 in the second and flew out to a 26-19 halftime cushion.

The Cardinals really fell off in scoring in the second period, when the Eagles stretched their lead out even further with a 14-4 advantage to make it a 20-point game, 43-23 after three. Marion outscored Eastern, 9-6 in the final eight minutes.

Janessa Alvesteffer scored nine points to lead the Cardinals, while Deanna Codman finished with seven (including one 3-point field goal).

Corinna Hernandez scrapped to come away seven rebounds. Claudia Fuster came away with six and Skylar Harry hauled down five.

The Cardinals are next scheduled to play on Monday at Hesperia.