Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Saturday, February 12, 2005
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Playing at home on a Saturday for the first time in more than two months, the Muhlenberg men’s basketball upset Franklin & Marshall, 80-67 for its first win over the Diplomats since the 2001 Centennial Conference playoffs.

The Mules (10-12, 7-8) picked up their second straight conference win and
Chase Licata
Licata also pulled down 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and the second of his career.
kept their playoff hopes alive. The first-place Diplomats (16-6, 11-4) had their five-game winning streak snapped.

With the game tied at 55 and 7:30 remaining, the Mules held Franklin & Marshall, one of top shooting teams in Division III, without a field goal for over six minutes. Junior Jimmy O’Brien’s three-point play with 7:02 left gave Muhlenberg the lead for good.

The Mules were 16-for-28 (57.1 percent) from the field in the second half. They also made 11 of 15 free throws in the final two minutes to win going away.

“We just rebounded better,” said sophomore Jeff Stewart, when asked why the Mules fared better against the Diplomats than when the teams played on January 11 and Franklin & Marshall outscored Muhlenberg by 20 points in the second half to win, 103-79. The Mules outrebounded Franklin & Marshall 23-12 in the second half and had a 44-29 edge for the game this time around. “We also prepped well during the week, so we were aware of what they were going to do on the floor.”

Stewart scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for his conference record-tying 14th double-double of the season as the Mules. He also had five blocks in the game and has 48 on the season, only 10 blocks shy of tying the Muhlenberg single-season record of 58.

There were five ties and 12 lead changes and the back-and-forth first half. Muhlenberg was leading 9-7 at a key moment early on when Stewart picked up his second personal foul.

“I was frustrated,” said Stewart about being forced to go to the bench only 5:15 into the first half. “The team did well without me.”

With Stewart playing only four more minutes in the first half, the Mules got contributions from other players, including senior Chase Licata, who was Muhlenberg’s leading scorer at halftime with 12 points and finished with 17 points in the game. Only a 67-percent foul shooter entering the game, Licata made eight of his 10 first-half free throws.

The Mules kept their slim playoff hopes alive with the win. They need to win their final three conference games, and hope that Ursinus and Gettysburg struggle down the stretch.

“It’s a longshot,” said senior Donté Borden about the Mules chances of getting back into the Centennial Conference playoffs for the first time since 2001-02. “We still have a chance and in our league, anything is possible.”

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Last updated February 12, 2005