Men's Basketball Clinches Playoff Berth

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
 

Women’s basketball

Malique Killing of the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team is familiar with the area around Haverford. The freshman went to school just down the street from the suburban Philadelphia campus and spent a lot of time playing in the local gyms.

So when he returned “home” with a chance to clinch a postseason berth, he admitted he was a just a tad nervous.

Austin Curry
Sophomore Austin Curry was one of four Mules to reach double figures, finishing with 17 points, including three 3-poitners.

But Killing showed no sign of those nerves as he poured in a game-high 20 points to help the Mules secure a spot in the Centennial Conference playoffs with a hard-fought 70-61 win.

The Mules (16-8, 10-7) could finish anywhere from second to fifth place depending on what happens on Saturday. They can clinch a bye into the semifinals with a win in the regular season finale at Ursinus.

“Hearing that we’re in the playoffs in the locker room after the game was the greatest feeling in the world,” said Killing, who shot 8-of-13 from the field. “It’s been a grind all season, and this is what we’ve been working for the whole time. So to finally get into the playoffs is awesome.

“Sometimes I get a little too amped up when I’m playing in front of all of my friends. But knowing we could get into the playoffs,

Kevin Hargrove
Hargrove pulled down 12 boards for the third time this season. He also added two blocks.
I didn’t want to let the team down. I’m just glad I was able to stay under control and help the team get the win. ”

Thanks to some hot outside shooting (6-of-9 from 3-point range), Haverford (9-15, 7-10) led by as many as eight in the first half before the Mules battled back to pull within three, 32-29, at the break. The Fords led out of the locker room until Killing tied it up at 47 on a fastbreak layup at the 12:53 mark.

The Mules proceeded to score 20 of the next 30 points to take control. After Haverford rallied to pull in front by one with 5:43 left, the Mules responded with a 13-2 run to put the game out of reach.

Sophomore Kevin Hargrove converted back-to-back three-point plays to open up the run and fire up the Mule bench. In his first significant action in five games, he recorded his second double-double of the season, finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds, one off his career high.

Then senior Spencer Liddic made a layup off a feed from junior Matt O’Hara to make it 62-55 with 3:47 left. O’Hara dished with nine assists, one short of his career high set earlier this season.

Following a Ford layup, Killing closed out the run with a layup of his own and a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 10 with 1:49 left to all but seal the game. He also dished out four assists to go along with his 20 points.

The Mules held the Fords to just 1-of-6 shooting during that stretch and limited them to just two treys in the second half. Muhlenberg held a 42-24 edge on the glass and allowed just one free throw attempt the entire night.

Liddic finished just shy of another double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. With 978 career boards, he is two shy of second place in Mule history.

While Liddic has piled up a lot of personal accolades, he is always talking about the one team accomplishment that has eluded him during his career, a conference championship. And that, Killing said, has been the team’s rally cry since the first practice of the season.

“All year, our goal has been to help Spencer go out with a bang,” Killing said. “He’s one of the greatest players in the history of this school, and we want him to leave here on a high note.

“We got the first part of our goal down tonight; we’re in the playoffs. We just need to keep playing like we have been lately to give him the ending he deserves.”
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