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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

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Men’s basketball, track & field

women’s basketball earns ranking,
turns away Haverford

The Muhlenberg women’s basketball team celebrated its first regional ranking of the season the best way it knows how, by adding another tally to the win column.

Four players scored in double figures as Muhlenberg used a strong second-half surge to beat Haverford, 69-62.

The win capped a day in which the Mules (18-5, 15-4) climbed into
Kathleen Naddaff
Naddaff's five blocked shots were one short of the school record.
sixth place in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional rankings. The rankings are determined by the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Committee, the same body that will select and seed teams for the NCAA Tournament.

On the court, the Mules jumped ahead out of the gate, but Haverford (10-14, 7-12) battled back to take a three-point lead three minutes before halftime.

Muhlenberg scored six points in the final minute of the first half, on a layup from freshman Erin Laney, a steal and layup from senior Kelly McKeon and a close-range jumper by senior Sheila Cook just before the buzzer, to take a one-point advantage into the locker room.

The Mules kept the momentum going out of the break. After making a block on Haverford’s first possession, junior Kathleen Naddaff hit a spinning hook shot from the top of the lane as the shot clock expired to put Muhlenberg up by three less than a minute into the half.

From there Muhlenberg used a 10-2 run over the next two-and-a-half minutes to grab control of the game.

Haverford, which has never won at Memorial Hall, would get as
Kelly McKeon
McKeon's 14 rebounds gave her 703 for her career. She has a rare combination of more than 1,200 points, 700 rebounds and 400 assists.
close as four at the 12:45 mark and five with less than a minute remaining, but each time the Mules responded to close out the game.

McKeon, who only scored two points in the first half, finished with 11 points to go along with team-highs in rebounds (14) and assists (6). It was her first double-double of the season, and her 14 rebounds were the most by a Mule in a game this season.

And while McKeon may not have found her shooting touch until the second half, Naddaff said the senior point guard is the kind of player that can make plenty of positive contributions without ever taking a shot.

“Kelly has so many roles on our team,” Naddaff said. “She sees the post so well that she can find open cutters, but when she sees an open shot she goes for it. Even if she doesn’t score she still has such a huge impact on our team.”

Naddaff joined McKeon in double figures with a team-high 12 points. She also finished with five blocks to help the Mules break another record in what has been a season full of milestones.

Muhlenberg turned away seven shots against Haverford to set a single-season record with 130 rejections on the year. It broke the mark of 128 blocks set by the 2007-08 squad.

“She is a huge presence down low,” McKeon said of Naddaff. “On defense she did a great job of controlling the paint. And on offense, coach has been stressing that we need to get the ball in the post more often. And she did a great job of sealing her defender, getting good position and finishing inside.”

Senior Alexandra Berlin and sophomore Alita Zabrecky finished with 10 points apiece, while Cook added eight.

The win, coupled with Gettysburg’s loss to Dickinson, clinched Muhlenberg the second seed in the Centennial Conference tournament.

But the Bullet loss could prove even more vital in the regional rankings. Gettysburg is one of two Centennial Conference schools ahead of the Mules; the Bullets are ranked fourth while Johns Hopkins checks in at No. 3.

And with a matchup against Gettysburg in the CC semifinals, and the Blue Jays lurking on the other side of the bracket, Muhlenberg will have a chance to try to add to its potential postseason résumé next week.

But before the Mules can begin to think about the conference tournament, they still have one more regular season game to take care of. And according to Naddaff, the Mules will have to play much better from the opening tip want to live up to their regional ranking.

“We just need to go out and play our game,” Naddaff said. “We can’t worry about the score or how much time’s left. We just need to play hard from the start. That’s what we did in the second half and it worked.”
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