Women's Basketball Comes Back from 17 Down to Upend Washington

Saturday, January 21, 2012
 

Men’s basketball Track & field

With the first snowfall of the winter causing the Muhlenberg women’s basketball game at Washington to be pushed back an hour, it was only fitting that it was Chili who came up big for the Mules.

Led by senior Alexandra Chili, who scored 18 of her game-high 21 points in the second half, including the game-winner in the final minute, Muhlenberg overcame a 17-point deficit to beat the Shorewomen, 60-57.

The comeback, which equaled the comeback against Rochester in

Alexandra Chili
Chili's 21 points brought her career total to 1,777, just 11 short of the Muhlenberg basketball (men or women) record. She also led the Mules with seven rebounds and tied for the team lead with three assists.
last year’s NCAA Tournament, keeps the No. 14 Mules tied in the loss column for first place in the Centennial Conference.

The Mules’ first-half shooting was as cold as the January air outside the Cain Center. Muhlenberg (14-2, 9-2) shot 23.5 percent in the first half and was outrebounded by 15 as Washington took a 33-19 lead into halftime.

But even with the deficit, junior Kate Clawson said she and her teammates were still optimistic when they went into the locker room.

“We were getting good looks, but the shots just wouldn’t fall,” she said. “But we were trying to not get frustrated because we knew when they would start falling we could get back in the game. We also made the decision to go to our fullcourt trap, which really made the difference.”

Despite the pressure defense to start the second half, Washington (11-6, 6-6) was still able to grow its lead to 17 less than a minute after the break.

But the trap eventually forced the Shorewomen out of their comfort zone. The Mules limited

Leeann Lanza
Lanza scored eight of Muhlenberg's 19 first-half points and contributed to the defense with three steals.
Washington to just 26.7 percent shooting after halftime and got the deficit back to single digits in less than three minutes on a layup from senior Kathleen Naddaff and eight points from Chili, including back-to-back 3-pointers.

“Even when you don’t get turnovers, the press can still get you back in the game,” Clawson said. “Everybody on the bench is yelling, and it pumps everybody up. You keep wanting to go faster and faster, which is what we love to do.”

The Shorewomen were able to keep a multiple-possession lead until Chili drove the baseline, hit a scoop shot under the defender’s arm and was fouled to make it 51-48 with 9:07 to play.

The Shorewomen hit a jumper to push the lead back to five with 6:37 to play, but that would be their final field goal as Muhlenberg held them to just a pair of free throws and outscored them, 10-2, the rest of the way.

Clawson cut the deficit to two on a 3-pointer that hit the front iron, bounced off the backboard and fell in with 5:23 to play. Then sophomore Leeann Lanza tied it up on a hook shot in the lane at the 2:05 mark.

Muhlenberg took its first lead of the game when Chili grabbed a steal near midcourt and found junior Alita Zabrecky, who knocked down two free throws after drawing a foul on the fast break. But the Shorewomen hit a pair of their own to retie the game with 53.0 remaining, setting the stage for Chili.

After faking a three from the right wing, she dribbled to the top of the key and knocked down a jumper over a pair of defenders with 41.3 to play.

Washington missed a layup on its ensuing possession, and Zabrecky made one of two foul shots to make it a three-point game. The Shorewomen were able to get off a potential game-tying three on their final possession, but it fell short, giving the Mules the win.

Lanza finished with 12 points, while Zabrecky and Naddaff added nine and seven, respectively.

The Mules heated up in the second half, shooting almost 52 percent from the field and hitting five of their nine 3-point attempts in the period. They also overcame their earlier issues on the glass, outrebounding Washington, 20-18, in the second half.

“That was incredible,” Clawson, who finished with six points on a pair of threes, said of the comeback. “We never feel like we’re out of any game, and today we proved we can come back. This was such a great team win, and showed just how much heart we have.”
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.