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Saturday, January 22, 2011 - page 2

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women's basketball turns up pressure,
sails past Washington

Even with a big lead there's always a chance for a teaching moment.

So when the Muhlenberg women's basketball team fell into a lull with five minutes to play and a 28-point lead on Washington, the Mules called timeout. But instead of talking to the players himself, coach Ron Rohn told senior captain Sheila Cook take control of the huddle.

Julie Kelly
Sophomore Julie Kelly finished with five points and added an assist and a steal against the Shorewomen.

Shocked initially, Cook composed herself and delivered a simple message: turn up the pressure on defense and the offense will take care of itself.

The Mules responded by outscoring the Shorewomen by five during the final five minutes to close out the 87-55 win.

"Our intensity level dropped towards the end of the game," Cook, who plans on teaching and coaching after college, said. "We had been talking about that on the bench and then coach called timeout and turned to me and told me to tell them.

"It caught me a little by surprise, but these girls work their butts off every day in practice and they deserve to get the most out of their minutes. Coach wanted them to work really hard and they responded."

While Muhlenberg's younger players may have needed a reminder
Leeann Lanza
Lanza scored the Mules' first six points of the game and added seven rebounds.
late in the second half, there was no need for any lessons in the opening stages of the game.

Behind 17 first-half points from junior Alexandra Chili and in-your-face defensive pressure, Muhlenberg outran Washington to a 39-26 halftime lead. But the Mules (12-4, 8-3) did not stop there. They scored the first six points of the second half and stretched their lead to 20 by the 15-minute mark.

Playing at the pace that helped Muhlenberg win eight-straight to start the season, the Mules used their press to wear down the Shorewomen (6-10, 4-7). Muhlenberg picked up 13 steals and forced 24 turnovers on the afternoon.

More importantly, the Mules only turned the ball over a season-low five times to go along with 21 assists en route to their first 80-point game since December 7. The key to the offensive success, according to senior Kelly McKeon, was creating havoc on defense and then pushing the ball up the floor to get open looks.

"Coach was subbing a lot, and we stressed getting into passing lanes, getting steals on defense and getting into transition," McKeon said. "When we're running in transition it's easier because we're not thinking about making mistakes or anything like that. It just has more flow."

McKeon finished with 10 points, eight on fastbreak layups, nine rebounds and four steals. She also dished out a pair of assists to move into a tie for fifth place on the Centennial Conference career assist list with 409.

She was not the only Mule to make a move in the CC record book against Washington. After finishing with 25 points, Chili is now the 24th leading scorer in CC history with 1,300 career points. She also dished out a team-high five assists.

Sophomore Alita Zabrecky finished with 10 points, six in transition, while Kate Clawson and Leeann Lanza added nine and eight, respectively. All 14 Mules that dressed played at least nine minutes and contributed a rebound, assist or steal, and 11 Mules scored in the game.

According to McKeon, it is that depth that allows Muhlenberg to play such an up-tempo style, and it is that depth that should help the Mules during the final half of CC play.

"[Washington] didn't have that many girls on the bench, so one of our main focuses coming in was to run the ball and tire them out," she said. "It helps that we have so many girls on the team that are able to do so many things like get steals, rebound and score. It's really nice to have that depth so we can stay fresh and wear teams out."
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.

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