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Sunday, January 2, 2011

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valiant effort falls short
for men’s basketball

Taking the tournamentís name to heart, the Muhlenberg menís basketball team started out strong in its first action in three-and-a-half weeks.

The Mules stormed out to a quick lead and Spencer Liddic held a six-point halftime advantage over Manhattanville (10-1) at the Greyhound Starters Classic hosted by Moravian.

But the Valiants responded after the break and handed the Mules (5-4) another tough loss, 58-55. Muhlenberg will face Wentworth Tech in the consolation game on Monday.

After giving up the first bucket of the game, the Muhlenberg used an 8-0 run to lead by six in the early stages. Manhattanville pulled to within one before a pair of jumpers from Austin Curry and Rob Berish, followed by a Berish 3-pointer, put Muhlenberg up 15-7 midway through the first half.

The Mules outworked the Valiants, who were just outside the top 25 in the last D3hoops.com national poll, on the interior and held a 20-16 rebounding advantage at the break.

Spencer Liddic (right) scored nine of his team-high 13 points in the opening 20 minutes, including an emphatic dunk for the Mulesí final basket of the period. He also led the Mules with a game-high 11 rebounds.

But after shooting better than 50 percent in the first half, Muhlenberg cooled off after the break. Thatís when Manhattanville began to convert on offense. The game was tied five times in the second half, and Muhlenberg never trailed by more than three points.

The Mules took the lead for the final time when Evan Tozer hit Kevin Hargrove for a driving layup to make it 51-50 with 5:45 to play. Then Hargrove put back his own miss to pull the Mules within one with 1:13 remaining.

But a pair of Mule fouls helped Manhattanville burn more than a minute off the clock, and the Valiants hit a tough, contested jumper with less than 10 seconds to play to push the lead to three.

Muhlenberg rushed down the court but its last-second 3-point attempt fell short and Manhattanville was able to hold on for the win.

Berish (12 points in his first career start) and Hargrove (11 points, 7 rebounds) joined Liddic in double figures as the Mules lost by three points or less for the second time in the last three games.
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