Liddic's Good Fortune Helps Men's Basketball Upset Diplomats

Saturday, February 4, 2012
 

Women’s basketball Wrestling, track and field

On the eve of the Muhlenberg men’s basketball showdown with No. 8 Franklin & Marshall, senior Spencer Liddic was given a fortune from a fortune cookie that read, “You are on the verge of something big.”

Less than 24 hours later, he turned that fortune into a reality, tying two Centennial

Spencer Liddic
With his 14 points against the Diplomats, Liddic moved within five of ninth place on the CC career scoring list with 1,615.
Conference records to help the Mules pull off a 60-58 upset that keeps them in a tie for fourth in the conference, one game out of second.

Liddic finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, tying the marks for career rebounds (947) and double-doubles (41). It’s the second straight year he reached a milestone in a home win over a ranked F&M team; last year he scored his 1,000th point in the 71-67 win.

But according to Liddic, what made the Mules’ sixth home win over a nationally ranked F&M team since the early 1990s feel so special had nothing to do with the records. Instead, he said, he was most proud that it was won as a unit.

“There have been a lot of great players that have played in the Centennial Conference,” he said. “So to get those records is a great honor. But this is a team game, and we won today because we played as a team. Everybody stepped up and made plays when they had to.”

Muhlenberg is just the seventh team this season to reach the 60-point mark against F&M, which entered the week with the top scoring defense in Division III. Even more impressive, the Mules are just the second team to hold the Diplomats to less than 60 this year; the 58 points are one off their season low.

The Mules, who have won 10 of their last 15 games against F&M at home, came out strong, using a 14-4 run, capped by an Austin Curry 3-pointer, to take a 10-point lead midway through the first half.

The Diplomats returned with a run of their own, grabbing a one-point lead 5:55 before halftime, before junior Hunter Forsman took a feed from freshman Malique Killing and stuffed a two-handed dunk over an F&M defender that sent a charge through one of the loudest Memorial Hall crowds of the season.

Austin Curry
Curry knocked down all four of his foul shots to finish with 10 points. He was one of five Mules to score at least nine points.

And even though the two teams went into the locker room tied, Liddic said Forsman’s dunk, which he rated a 10 out of 10, was a huge confidence boost for the entire squad.

“When we watched film from when we lost to them last time [87-55 three weeks ago], everybody looked tentative and maybe a little scared,” he said. “We wanted to come out and show them we aren’t intimidated and know we can beat them. And I think Hunter’s dunk got us all fired up and showed them that we were going to play physical.”

In a playoff-like atmosphere, the scored changed hands or was tied eight times in the second half. The Mules got big contributions from several players as they held F&M to just 33.3-percent shooting after the break.

Freshman Gabriel Mercer hit a pair of big threes, including one to tie the game at the 7:30 mark. F&M scored five of the next seven points before Forsman tipped in a putback and Curry drained a transition 3-pointer off an O’Hara steal to put the Mules up 52-50 with less than five minutes left.

The Diplomats tied the game on their next possession, but Muhlenberg held them without a field goal over the next 3:58.

O’Hara, who finished with six points, hit a three from in front of the Mules’ bench to give them a 55-52 lead with 3:23 to play. After F&M hit four straight foul shots to take the lead, Curry knocked down a pair of his own to get it right back with 1:31 left.

The Diplomats got the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead twice in the final 20 seconds, but the Mules forced their preseason All-American point guard to turn the ball over twice, and Curry sank two more free throws to seal the win.

Killing was one of three Mules in double figures with 12 points, and Mercer and Forsman contributed nine each to give Muhlenberg four straight wins for the first time this season.

But while Liddic said the win felt great, he was quick to turn his attention to the future. Last season, the Mules dropped their next two games after beating F&M. This year, he said, they plan on not letting that happen.

“This is a really good win,” he said. “But we’re still in the middle of a playoff race, and it’s just one win. We need to savor it tonight, and then come back ready to work even harder. We still have a lot of work left to do, and we don’t plan on letting this one win define our season.

“I still have it,” he added with a smile referencing the fortune. “And I'm definitely going to keep it,”
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.