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Muhlenberg College

Thursday, December 2, 2010

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women’s basketball zones out swat

Most of the time it is the offense that tries to get in the zone.

But for the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team, it was the defensive zone that made all the difference against Swarthmore.

Less than five minutes into the second half, with Muhlenberg only up by three, the Mules switched from a man-to-man defense to a zone look. That change caused the Garnet problems, and Muhlenberg took over to earn an 86-67 win.

“When we were playing man some girls were getting open for some reason,” senior guard Alexandra Berlin said. “But in the zone we were able to stick out on their shooters and get some hands in their faces. And then we were able to get
Alita Zabrecky
Zabrecky scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half.
some tips and run.”

Of course it did not hurt that Muhlenberg’s main offensive threat, Alexandra Chili, was also in the zone. The junior guard finished with a game-high 30 points, including six three-pointers, to pace the Mule offense.

She also continued her ascent up Muhlenberg’s scoring charts. Her six three-pointers brings her career total to 191, which is the most ever by a Mule and fifth in Centennial Conference history. Her 30 points also moved her into fifth place on the school’s all-time
Alexandra Chili
Chili has three career 30-point games, one in each of her three seasons.
scoring list (1,070) - even though she's not keeping track.

“I didn’t even know about that until now,” she said with a laugh. “That’s nice, but I just focus on playing and trying to win. I hear it’s bad luck to pay attention to those things.”

But even with Chili lighting it up from the outside, the Mules were not ahead at halftime. The Garnet (4-2, 2-1) came back from an 11-point deficit with seven minutes to go to force a 39-39 tie at the break.

That’s when the Mules turned up the defensive pressure. With Berlin and Alita Zabrecky positioned at the top of the zone, the Mules (5-0, 2-0) were able to jump into passing lanes and generate easy fast break points.

Berlin converted back-to-back layups, including one off a quick hesitation move that froze her defender in her wake, to put Muhlenberg up by seven with 11:44 to play. Then she picked up a steal and dished to Katy Rossino for a layup to stretch the lead to nine.

After a pair of Garnet free throws and a Chili jumper, Berlin once again got pressure and stole an inbounds pass under the Garnet bucket. She quickly fired a pass the length of the court to Zabrecky, who was running free, for an uncontested layup to stretch the Mule lead to double digits.

Swarthmore responded with a layup to cut its deficit to nine, but then Berlin found Kate Clawson for a wide-open three to make it 68-56 with 8:01 remaining. From there the Mules would never look back as they cruised down the stretch.

Both Berlin and Zabrecky joined Chili in double figures with 11 and 18 points, respectively. Berlin also led the team with 8 assists and 4 steals, while her running mate added 5 assists and 2 picks. Clawson finished with a season-high 9 points.

Muhlenberg outscored the Garnet 47-28 in the second half, including 37-21 after switching to a zone defense. And according to Berlin, that added defensive activity allowed the Mules to control the tempo and take over the game.

“Just getting in people’s faces and bringing a lot more intensity really helped us in the second half,” Berlin said. “We were able to get some steals and get everyone pumped up. That helped us pull through tonight.”
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