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Muhlenberg College

Saturday, March 1, 2008

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Indoor track and field

women’s basketball reaches
championship game

With the game, and the season, on the line, Kelly McKeon stole a page out of Dickinson’s playbook – literally.

The freshman point guard made two key steals in the last 40 seconds to lift the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team to a 54-47 win in a Centennial Conference semifinal thriller.

The Mules (20-6) advance to the CC championship game for the seventh time in their history, where they will face Gettysburg, a 75-70
Erin McSherry
McSherry’s six blocks gave her 105 for her career. Her season total of 53 is seven short of the school record.
victor against host Franklin & Marshall in the other semi.

The game was tied, 47-47, with 39.8 seconds left, when the Red Devils (16-9) called timeout to set up an inbounds play from near halfcourt. McKeon, guarding the inbounder, jumped to pick off the pass and was fouled immediately. She made the second of two free throws to give Muhlenberg a 48-47 lead.

Dickinson took a quick shot on its next possession, and after junior Erin McSherry corralled the rebound, McKeon was fouled again. This time she made both foul shots, putting the Mules in front by three with 26.2 ticks on the clock.

Needing a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, the Red Devils pushed the ball up the court, only to have McKeon pick off a pass to the corner. She made two more free throws, and another pair by McSherry completed Muhlenberg’s game-ending 10-0 run.

“I wasn’t expecting [the steals],” said McKeon. “Coach was telling us to play pressure defense at the end because they were tired.”

Pressure defense was the story for most of the game, only it was the defense of the Red Devils, who forced the Mules into 31 turnovers – more than twice their average – and recorded 16 steals.

“It’s really tough, I’m not going to lie,” said McKeon
Kelly McKeon
Despair starts to set in on the Dickinson bench as McKeon dribbles away after her last steal.
of the Dickinson defense. “They constantly have a girl behind you and a girl in front of you. It makes it hard to get the ball in.”

After Muhlenberg opened a 12-7 lead with 8:30 left in the first half, the Red Devils turned up the heat. The Mules made only one field goal while turning the ball over 11 times the rest of the half and went into the locker room down 24-14.

It was reminiscent of the first time the teams played this year, a game in which Muhlenberg got off to a good start, then went more than 11 minutes without a field goal. The Mules trailed by 10 at halftime and never quite recovered, falling behind by as many as 27 and eventually losing by 15.

“We were more relaxed in the second half today,” noted McKeon. “We were all overanxious in the first half. They got some turnovers and scored easy baskets. I think we came out in the second half and weren’t going to quit.”

Muhlenberg scored the first four points of the second half and remained within striking distance, finally reclaiming the lead at 34-33 on a fallaway jumper by McSherry with 8:30 left. That was part of a 10-0 run that put the Mules ahead by five with 6:30 to play. Dickinson responded with a 7-2 run, tying the score at 40 at the five-minute mark and setting the stage for the heart-stopping finish.

Although the Devil defense produced more dramatic results in the form of turnovers, Muhlenberg’s defense was solid the entire game. Dickinson shot just 20.5 percent in the second half and 27.3 percent for the game, and the Mules held a commanding 45-29 rebounding advantage.

Central to the defensive effort was McSherry, who had a phenomenal game with 15 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and six blocked shots. In addition to tying the school record for blocks in a game for the second time in four games, she altered many Red Devil tries with her imposing presence in the middle.

“It looked more like 10!” said McKeon when told of McSherry’s blocks. “As a guard, it’s good knowing she’s behind you if you get beat, and she doesn’t foul a lot.”

McKeon finished with 15 points and five steals, and freshman Sheila Cook added 11 points to help Muhlenberg reach the 20-win mark for the third time in its history. The triumph made seniors Michelle Feldman and Abra Like the winningest class in program history with a career record of 76-30.

On Sunday, the seniors will go for their second CC title against a Gettysburg squad that had never won a CC playoff game until Wednesday. The two teams split this year, each winning on the other’s home court.
Click here for box score.

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