Women's Basketball 2011-12 Season Review

 

The Muhlenberg women’s basketball team didn’t want for much in 2011-12 as it won its record seventh Centennial Conference championship, but one thing its season lacked was originality.

seniors
The senior class of Chili, Rossino, Mui and Naddaff (left to right) set a school record with 93 wins in four seasons. They went 66-12 in CC regular-season games, 7-1 in CC playoff games, 7-1 in Scotty Wood Tournament games and 5-4 in NCAA Tournament games.
For the second year in a row, the Mules started out with a bang to earn a national ranking, stumbled through January, entered the CC playoffs on a roll, won the CC championship at Johns Hopkins, picked up an NCAA Tournament win before falling on the road to a top-10 team and finished with a record of 23-6.

Another theme common to the two seasons was the record-shattering play of Alexandra Chili. Already the CC’s all-time leader in three-pointers after three seasons, Chili took over the top spot on the league’s scoring list and became the first CC player – male or female – to net 2,000 points.

Alexandra Chili
Chili was a WBCA first-team All-American and was voted to the All-CC first team for the third consecutive year. She also was a second-team Academic All-American and a finalist for the Jostens Trophy, given to the top player in Division III. Her career total of 336 three-pointers ranks ninth all-time in Division III history.
Ranked 20th in the D3hoops.com preseason poll, Muhlenberg did everything to live up to the ranking, winning its first 12 games for the second-best start in program history. Included in that run, which pushed the team up to ninth in the polls, were a Scotty Wood Tournament championship, wins against local rivals Moravian and DeSales, and a 115-43 victory at Bryn Mawr in which the Mules tied the school record for largest winning margin and set a mark for most steals (37) in a game.

But No. 13 proved to be unlucky, as Muhlenberg lost in overtime at home to Gettysburg to begin a skid of five losses in eight games. One of the wins in that stretch required a dramatic comeback from a 17-point second-half deficit at Washington College.

The Mules rebounded to capture the last five games of the regular season, however, reaching the 20-win mark for the first straight year. Seeded third in the CC playoffs, Muhlenberg gutted out a 51-47 win against second-seeded Franklin & Marshall in the semifinals to reach its fifth consecutive final.

Alita Zabrecky
The third-leading scorer in the CC, Zabrecky will enter her senior season with 856 career points.
Muhlenberg’s game at Johns Hopkins the last weekend of January did not go so well, with the Blue Jays scoring a 67-43 win. The game the last weekend of February was a different story. The Mules opened up a 14-4 lead and were never seriously threatened, winning 74-53 for their fifth title in seven years.

Muhlenberg was sent west to Ohio for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. After eliminating Catholic, 63-54, in the first round, the Mules led sixth-ranked host Mount Union for almost the entire game before falling at the end, 61-55, in the second round. Mount Union was eliminated on a buzzer-beater in the next round by eventual national champion Illinois Wesleyan.

Chili not only led the conference in scoring at 17.4 points per game, but she also led Muhlenberg in assists (87) and was second in rebounding (6.1 average), steals (42) and blocked shots (21). She took her rebounding to new levels late in the season, averaging 10.3 boards over the final seven games.

Junior Alita Zabrecky had a terrific season, earning All-CC second-team honors after leading the team in rebounds per game (6.6) and steals (63) and finishing second in points per game (15.1), assists (65) and three-pointers (38). Only four players in program history topped her season total of 439 points.

After Chili and Zabrecky, the Mules relied on a very balanced attack that utilized the team’s deep bench. Frontcourt contributors included sophomores Leeann Lanza (5.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Erin Laney (5.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and senior Kathleen Naddaff (4.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg). Junior Kate Clawson averaged 5.4 points and was third on the team with 18 three-pointers.

Senior Katy Rossino, sophomore Colleen Caldwell and freshman Hannah Rush shared most of the minutes at point guard, combining to average 4.9 assists per game. Senior Kimberly Mui returned after missing the entire 2010-11 season with injury and was a valuable reserve guard.