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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

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men’s basketball pulls out dramatic win

When the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team called a timeout down one with 15.5 seconds to play, it would have been reasonable to assume the Mules would draw up a play for their leading scorer and all-conference forward, Spencer Liddic.

And actually, that’s what they did.

But when Austin Curry had to track down the inbounds pass just before halfcourt with nine seconds left on the shot clock, he did not think he would have enough time to get the ball to Liddic, who was double-teamed on the right block.

So instead, Curry drove around the defense and streaked down the left side of the lane. He sliced to the bucket
video of winning basket
Click above to see video of Curry’s game-winning basket and Swarthmore’s final attempt.
and hit a runner with 10.6 seconds to play to give the Mules a 59-58 win over Swarthmore.

“I think everybody thought the ball was going to Spencer; I’m sure that’s what their coach told them,” Curry said. “I was able to get past them on the left side of the lane because
Kevin Hargrove
Hargrove drew this foul while driving in for a layup late in the first half.
Spencer was on the right and everybody was cheating towards him. Then I basically got into the lane and got myself a close shot. Luckily it went in.”

The freshman’s bucket gave the Mules (5-1, 1-1) a thrilling win that he said should not have been as close.

The Mules jumped out early and led by as many as 18 points in the first half.

Senior guard Evan Tozer helped the Mule cause by limiting the Centennial Conference’s leading scorer, Swarthmore’s Will Gates, to only four points in the first 20 minutes, and the Garnet had trouble generating offense.

While Tozer was working on stopping Gates, freshman Kevin Hargrove made life difficult for the Garnet’s interior offense. The 6-foot-10 center picked up two of his game-high four blocks in the first half and also altered several other Swarthmore shots.

Hargrove, who finished with a career-high 12 points and added 9 rebounds, said he is finally beginning to adjust to the college game.

“The first couple games really had a fast pace and I wasn’t expecting
Evan Tozer
In addition to his defensive effort, Tozer scored 6 points and dished out 4 assists without a turnover.
the speed of the game,” he said. “But now I’m slowly getting more used to it and I’m starting to get there. I felt really good tonight and hopefully I can keep improving.”

After Tozer found Hargrove in the lane for an easy layup to put Muhlenberg up by 15 at the start of the second half, the Garnet (3-4, 0-2) finally found some offense and went on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to single digits.

Muhlenberg responded with a pair of layups from Hargrove, a power bucket by Liddic and a twisting layup from James Albano to make it 42-30 Mules with 12:50 to play. But Swarthmore would not go away.

A three with 1:36 to play gave Swarthmore its first lead of the game, 56-55.

On the ensuing Mule possession, Liddic, who finished with 17 points and 9 boards, hit the front end of a one-and-one to tie the game but missed the second. However, he crashed the lane and grabbed the offensive rebound. He found Hargrove cutting, and the freshman was fouled on his way to the rim.

Hargrove hit one of two free throws to put the Mules back in front. But that lead was short-lived as Swarthmore hit a pair of freebies on their next possession to go ahead 58-57, setting the stage for Curry’s heroics.

After a pair of Muhlenberg non-shooting fouls to drain the clock, Swarthmore was finally able to hoist up a contested jumper with less than two seconds to play. It fell short, and Matt O’Hara grabbed the rebound to secure what Curry called a win that sent a message to the Mules.

“It’s nice to learn a lesson on a win,” Curry said. “It would’ve been real tough, but easy to learn the lesson, if we had lost.

“Especially since we’re a young team, we’ve got to learn that wins in the conference don’t come easy. When we get up on somebody, we’ve got to keep playing with intensity and put together a full 40 minutes.”
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