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Thursday, January 13, 2011 - page 2

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women’s basketball clamps down on F&M

With her picture gracing the cover of the game program and a small contingent of fans from her hometown sitting in the stands, junior Kathleen Naddaff said she was determined to have a good game against Franklin & Marshall.

But the Muhlenberg women's basketball center did a little more than that. She finished with a career night to help the Mules grab a key Centennial Conference victory over the Diplomats, 66-58.

The 6-foot-1 Naddaff used an array of power moves in the low
Kathleen Naddaff
Naddaff is the ninth different Mule to score in double figures this season.
block to score a career-high 13 points. She also finished one rebound short of her personal best with eight boards. But instead of taking any of the credit, she said her success was mostly due to her teammates getting her the ball in good position to score.

"I wasn't even really looking to score that much, but when we started running our plays I was getting open," Naddaff said. "I just tried to stay aggressive. Their players were really scrappy so I had to be really strong, and when you are strong you finish. That's what happened for me tonight."

Muhlenberg (10-2, 6-1) controlled the tempo early and took a five-point lead into halftime.

But the Diplomats (7-6, 5-3) got hot out of the locker room and took their first lead with 14:19 to play. F&M's lead would grow to four before the Mules responded.

Back-to-back layups from Naddaff and Alexandra Chili retied the game, but
Alexandra Berlin
Berlin's 16 points were two shy of her career high, set vs. Dickinson last year.
the Diplomats answered with a 3-pointer. That's when the Mule defense took over, along with a little offensive help from senior Alexandra Berlin.

The versatile guard drove from the left wing and was fouled on her way to the basket with the shot clock winding down. She drained both free throws to cut the deficit to one with seven minutes to play.

After F&M hit one foul shot, junior Katy Rossino found Berlin alone at the top of the arc. She pulled up and knocked down the trey to push Muhlenberg back in front.

The Diplomats missed a pair of free throws on their next possession, and freshman Leeann Lanza scored on a turnaround post move to stretch the lead to five.

Then Berlin corralled a long rebound off a missed F&M 3-pointer and sprinted down the court. She drove hard to the basket and beat two defenders for a coast-to-coast layup that put Muhlenberg ahead, 61-56.

A pair of Diplomat free throws made it a one-possession game before senior Kelly McKeon grabbed a rebound and took off on a fast break. She drove into the middle of the lane, drawing the defense, before firing a pass to Chili in the right corner. Chili calmly knocked down the 3-pointer to make it 64-58 Mules with 2:42 to play.

From there, Muhlenberg's defense stifled the Diplomats the rest of the way. The Mules did not allow an F&M field goal during the final eight minutes and outscored the Diplomats 14-3 during that stretch. And it was the defense, Naddaff said, that helped spark the offense.

"When they were running their sets, their screens were really giving us some trouble," she said. "So we switched to a little bit of zone to mix things up. Then when we went back to man we were able to get through the screens better, which helped our defense."

Chili and Berlin joined Naddaff in double figures with 19 points and 16 points, respectively, while Rossino dished out three helpers and added a pair of steals. On the interior, Lanza pulled down 12 boards, the most by a Mule this season, to help Muhlenberg outrebound F&M, 52-38.

The win keeps Muhlenberg in first place in the Centennial Conference standings. And more importantly, Naddaff said, it helped put the Mules back in a winning mindset.

"This was huge because they only had two losses in the conference," Naddaff said. "We really needed this win. We're back on the way up and feeling very confident."
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