Women's Basketball Reaches 20-Win Mark Again

Saturday, February 18, 2012 - page 2
 

Of all the ways the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team has been beating opponents this season, free throws by Colleen Caldwell generally isn’t one of them.

But the sophomore calmly drained two huge free throws with 30 seconds left to

Leeann Lanza
Lanza's reverse layup and two free throws started a 9-0 run that gave the Mules a 19-16 lead late in the first half.
help the Mules hold off Ursinus, 61-56, in their final game of the regular season.

With its fifth straight win, Muhlenberg (20-5, 15-5) reached the 20-victory mark for the fifth straight season. In College athletic history, only one other team (volleyball from 1991 to 1995) has done that.

“In the locker room, that was one of the things we were talking about,” said Caldwell. “We knew we wanted to keep that tradition going.”

Another tradition the Mules want to perpetuate is their postseason success. Muhlenberg will seek its fifth Centennial Conference title in seven years next weekend at Johns Hopkins. The Mules will be the third seed and face second-seeded Franklin & Marshall in a semifinal game.

Muhlenberg will head into the playoffs on the heels of two

Colleen Caldwell
Caldwell scored off an offensive rebound in the first half for her only other points of the game. She also recorded a pair of assists on long downcourt passes to Laney.
straight road wins against other playoff teams, and just like Wednesday’s 60-52 win at Haverford, the Ursinus game was a tight, grind-it-out type of contest. In the second half, each team made only seven field goals, and neither led by more than six points.

The Bears (13-12, 12-8) took their first lead of the second half on a pair of free throws with 4:17 left, and an exchange of baskets left Ursinus up 56-55 with 3:42 to play. The Mules did not allow a point the rest of the way.

Senior Alexandra Chili was fouled while driving through the lane and made both ends of a one-and-one with 3:26 remaining, giving Muhlenberg a 57-56 lead.

The score stayed that way until the final minute. Ursinus took possession with 1:10 left with a chance to take the lead, but the Mules forced a tough shot with the shot clock running down, and junior Alita Zabrecky grabbed the rebound.

Forced to foul, Ursinus found an appealing candidate in Caldwell, who was only 7-for-14 from the line on the season and hadn’t even attempted a free throw in the last seven games. She had not made both ends of a two-shot foul since December 1, but she was equal to the task at the big moment, providing Muhlenberg some breathing room at 59-56.

“I felt a little pressure,” she admitted. “I knew it would be tougher for us if I didn’t make them, and it would be like a big weight off of us if I did.”

The Bears could still tie with a three, but the Mules defended well again and forced a difficult try. Chili pulled down the rebound and was fouled with 8.7 seconds left. She made both free throws to polish off her 18-point performance and ice the win.

Zabrecky finished with nine points and 11 rebounds, sophomore Erin Laney had 11 points and six rebounds, sophomore Leeann Lanza recorded eight points and six boards, and freshman Hannah Rush contributed nine points in the type of all-around team effort that it will take to win postseason games.

“We were really up and down,” said Caldwell. “Some players were contributing on offense and others on defense. We each put our best attributes out there, at the end of the game we all came together and did what we needed to win.”
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