Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Saturday, February 18, 2006
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In a playoff atmosphere, the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team captured a 74-70 victory over Ursinus to earn the fifth and final seed in the Centennial Conference playoffs.

The Mules (14-11, 9-9), playing with a lot of emotion in front of a large crowd, will travel to play at Washington on Wednesday for a first-round playoff game, their first
Tom Scott
Scott averaged 18.3 points in the last four regular-season games as the Mules went 3-1 to earn a playoff berth.
since 2002.

With the Conference leader in scoring and rebounding sidelined with an injury, Muhlenberg looked for others to step up and take charge against the first-place Bears (19-6, 15-3). That is exactly what happened.

Junior Tom Scott recorded a season-high 27 points, including a pair of free throws with 15.1 seconds left in the game to put the Mules up 73-70. After Ursinus missed a three-pointer to tie, freshman Michael Bernardini scored the final Muhlenberg point from the free-throw line to ice the game.

“I promised Jimmy O’Brien before the game that it wouldn’t be his last,” said Scott. “So when I was standing at the foul line, I knew I had to hit those shots.”

O’Brien, the lone senior on the Mules, finished with seven points, six assists and four steals on Senior Day. He has waited four years for an opportunity to play in the postseason.

“I can’t even describe it,” said O’Brien. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world. Everyone showed a lot of heart and pulled through in the end.”

The Bears were holding on to a 49-42 lead with 13:36 to play in the second half before the Mules went on a 13-2 run. Freshman Chris MacIntosh’s baseline jumper started the rally. Scott put back his own miss to bring the Mules within three.

After a layup by Ursinus, Scott, who had 11 of the Mules’ first 13 points of the half, took a pass from O’Brien and hit a layup at 12:02. Shortly after, junior
Chris Huber
Huber scored 13 points and made two three-pointers to increase his season total to 61 – the second-best in Muhlenberg history.
Brandon Mefford drove to the basket and hit a layup. On the next possession, MacIntosh stole the ball, ran past one defender and twisted around another for a layup to give Muhlenberg its first lead of the half, 52-51.

Following a missed layup by Ursinus, MacIntosh grabbed the rebound and worked the ball to Mefford, who threw the ball down the court to junior Chris Huber. Huber nailed a three, putting the Mules up 55-51 with 10:05 to play.

The Bears came back to take a 59-58 lead, but the Mules answered right back. Mefford dribbled the ball along the baseline and popped a pass out to O’Brien at the three-point line. O’Brien swung it over to Huber, who hit a three from the top of the arc with 6:51 left. Muhlenberg never trailed again.

“The goal today was mistmatches,” said Scott. “When I had a smaller guy on me, I took him to the post. We knew if we moved Jimmy out to the perimeter, their center couldn’t stay with him and Jimmy was able to constantly get by him. We all knew we needed to step up offensively and if we played great defense, our offense would come. We found the mismatches and attacked effectively.”

Muhlenberg, which finished the year with a 12-1 home record, matching the most home wins in 60 years, built momentum for the second half by scoring the final eight points of the first. Junior Jimmie Riggins knocked down a three from the corner with two seconds left to send the team into the locker room trailing 37-35.

“It was a lot of pressure,” said O’Brien. “We came out with a little too much energy and jitters, but we know we are a tough team at home and that when we are all clicking we can beat anyone in the conference. It’s a brand new season now and anything can happen.”

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Last updated February 18, 2006