Men's Basketball Hands Swarthmore First CC Loss

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
 

Women’s basketball

A big dose of Kevin Hargrove was just what the doctor ordered for the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team.

Nick Melosky
Sophomore Nick Melosky made his first three-pointer of the season to give the Mules a 22-15 lead with 8:41 left in the first half.
“Chief,” said junior point guard Malique Killing, “is back.”

The senior center came up with his best game of the season at Swarthmore, going off for 19 points and a season-high 14 rebounds to spark the Mules (5-1, 2-1) to a 64-48 victory. Hargrove was a force all night, making eight of his 10 shots and controlling the paint as Muhlenberg withstood a second-half push before handing the Garnet (3-4, 2-1) their first Centennial Conference loss.

“I had been getting into too much foul trouble lately,” said Hargrove, who added two blocks and two steals to his 14th career double-double. “We knew they were undersized and didn’t have much depth in the post, so we wanted to take it to them right away. We got them tired on defense, and that was the whole game plan.”

Hargrove was involved early and often, scoring eight points in the first 5:22 and reaching double figures just over nine minutes in, by which time he had already pulled down seven boards. The 6-10 co-captain helped the Mules to their biggest lead of the first half with an impressive sequence, pulling down a rebound and firing a football pass ahead to Killing for an easy layin before gliding across the lane for a lefty hook on the next possession to make it 29-15 with 6:35 to play in the half.

While Hargrove handled the inside, Killing took care of the perimeter, making for an effective one-two punch. Killing finished with a game-high 23 points and was everywhere defensively, coming up with five steals and helping to pester Swarthmore into 21 turnovers. The junior, who moved into 22nd on the program’s all-time scoring list, also hit one of the game’s biggest shots – with a bit of help.

After the Garnet went on an 8-0 run to cut the Mules’ lead to 49-43 with six minutes remaining, Killing pulled up for a three-pointer from the top of the key. The ball grazed the front of the rim before bouncing high off the backboard and through the net to stop the bleeding, and the defense took over from there.

Hargrove came up with a pair of key swipes down the stretch, Swarthmore missed its last eight shots and the Mules, who never trailed, were able to ice the game at the line. Killing, who made all nine of his free throws, and senior co-captain Austin Curry each converted four in a row from the charity stripe in the final minutes, while sophomore Alec Stavetski also hit a pair to help seal the victory. The Garnet managed just two free throws over the final 4:18 after a three-pointer cut the Muhlenberg advantage to single digits at 54-46.

The Mules were more than up to the challenge defensively against a Swarthmore squad that ranks second in the CC in three-pointers and first in three-point attempts. The Garnet went just 5-for-24 (20.8 percent) from distance, thanks in large part to the Mules closing out on shooters and hounding the perimeter.

“We did a great job with their personnel,” Hargrove said. “Our coaches did a great job scouting them, and we knew what their strengths were. We knew they were a good shooting team, so we had to get up on them and make them drive into us.”

Freshman Jon Schreer finished with seven points for the Mules, including a three-pointer and jumper during an 11-2 run that made it 47-33 midway through the second half. Curry had six points and six rebounds to go along with three assists, while senior co-captain James Albano produced six rebounds and two steals in his second career start.
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