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Muhlenberg College

Sunday, February 27, 2011

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Baseball

women’s basketball captures
sixth centennial title

CC CHAMPIONS!! Playing in the Charm City, the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team proved once again that the third time definitely is the charm.

The Mules used a key 12-0 run early in the second half to pull away from top-seeded Johns Hopkins and claim their unprecedented sixth Centennial Conference championship, 72-61, in Baltimore. The win avenged two regular-season losses to the Blue Jays.

“This is absolutely amazing,” senior Kelly McKeon said as she modeled one of the nets around her neck. “This is what we wanted coming into the season; we worked hard all year and we were able to achieve our goal. This has been a great run and I am so proud of all the girls.”

The win gives Muhlenberg the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Mules’ first-round opponent and site will be announced at 3 tomorrow afternoon on NCAA.com.

The tense title game featured 16 lead changes and 10 ties in the first 23 minutes. With the Blue Jays up by three less than three minutes into the second half, Muhlenberg tightened defensively, holding Johns Hopkins without a basket for nearly six minutes to grab control.

Four straight free throws started the 12-0 run before McKeon
Alexandra Chili
Chili has 244 career threes, breaking the record of 242 set by Bridget Hussey of Ursinus (2000-03). Chili needed one less season and 51 fewer attempts to take over first place.
found junior Alexandra Chili alone on the left wing for 3.

Chili calmly knocked down the shot, in the process giving Muhlenberg a 42-38 lead, becoming the CC’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made and breaking her own school record for points in a season.

After a Blue Jay miss, McKeon got the ball in the open court and took off for a fastbreak layup to stretch the lead to six.

Less than a minute later, the senior point guard drove into the lane, drawing multiple defenders, and found Alita Zabrecky all alone on the left wing. The sophomore pulled up and drained a 3-pointer that put the Mules up by nine and prompted a Blue Jay timeout with 13:30 remaining.

“I felt the shift at that point,” McKeon said. “I think they got a little tired midway through the second half there, and we went on a run and didn’t let up. That’s when we took that lead and never looked back.”

From there, Hopkins responded with a few mini runs but could never get closer than four.

With Muhlenberg looking to milk the clock late, McKeon connected on back-to-back jumpers in the lane, each coming with less than nine seconds remaining on the shot clock, to stifle any chance of a Blue Jay comeback.

McKeon finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for her second double-double in as many days. She also
Kelly McKeon
McKeon's three assists moved her into third place on the all-time CC list with 448 in her career.
grabbed four steals on a day when she said she wanted to take control with the game in the balance.

“We were trying to run down the clock, and I said this is my last opportunity to win a CC championship and I wasn’t going to let it go,” McKeon said about her play in the second half. “So I had the ball in my hands at the end and was able to get some shots to fall.”

Senior Sheila Cook finished with a game-high 21 points, including 13 in the first half, that helped keep the Mules to within one at the break. She finished the weekend with 43 points on 18-of-33 shooting (54.5 percent).

Chili had 17 points on the day to bring her season total to 491. She now has scored more points through three seasons (1,442) than any other player in CC history.

Senior Alexandra Berlin dished out six assists, while freshmen Erin Laney and Leeann Lanza went a combined 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the last minute to help ice the game. Laney, Lanza and another freshman, Katy Mitton, combined to keep Blue Jay leading scorer Lyndsay Burton in check. The CC player of the year scored 29 points in the semifinal win against Franklin & Marshall but netted just 15 on 5-for-12 shooting in the championship game.

The win gives Muhlenberg its sixth CC title; no other school has more than four. It also allowed the senior duo of McKeon and Cook to become just the third class in CC history to finish with three conference championships and the first Muhlenberg class to go to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

And according to McKeon, the victory helped the Mules exact some revenge from the past two seasons, as well.

After watching McDaniel celebrate in Memorial Hall after winning last year’s crown, she said she and her teammates wanted nothing more than to cut down the Blue Jays’ nets in their own gym.

The Mules were also determined not to go winless against the Blue Jays this season, she added.

“Losing last year left a sour taste in our mouths, and I think we wanted it more than anyone else,” McKeon, who has beaten every CC team at least once per season during her career, said. “We worked hard to make sure that wouldn’t happen again, and to be able to come out on top is just the greatest feeling in the world.”
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