Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Friday, February 24, 2006
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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

For the fourth time in five years, the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team finds itself in a similar position: facing McDaniel in the semifinals of the Centennial Conference playoffs.

The 15th-ranked Mules (23-2), who won the CC regular-season title, host the two-time defending champion Green Terror (19-7) in the second
Meghan Courtney
Junior Meghan Courtney scored 40 points in two regular-season games against McDaniel.
semifinal game on Saturday at 3:00. In the first semifinal, Johns Hopkins (19-6) squares off against Dickinson (18-6). The winners meet Sunday for the championship at Memorial Hall.

This promises to be one of the most competitive CC tournaments ever, as for only the second time in league history the final four teams all have at least 18 wins. All four teams are among the top 10 in winning percentage in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Live stats and play-by-play for all three tournament games will be available here. In addition, WMUH 91.7 FM will broadcast every game Muhlenberg plays. To listen in Real Audio, click here.

“McDaniel is one of the most dangerous teams in the conference, because they are so physically strong and so mentally strong,” said senior forward Lacie Smith. “They have been in a position to win several years in a row, so they know what it takes to win in that situation.”

Indeed, the Green Terror is 10-1 in the CC playoffs the last five years, with six of the 10 wins coming away from home – including two at Muhlenberg. McDaniel came to Allentown and won 53-52 in 2002 and 77-64 in 2003, both times after needing to win a tiebreaker game to qualify for the playoffs. The Green Terror also had to play an extra game this year,

If the saying is true and defense wins championships, McDaniel will be at a statistical disadvantage this weekend.

The three other teams all rank in the top 20 in Division III in a defensive category. Muhlenberg is 16th in field-goal percentage defense and 17th in scoring defense, Johns Hopkins is fourth in field-goal percentage defense, and Dickinson is 15th in scoring defense.

McDaniel, on the other hand, is 10th in the 11-team Centennial Conference in field-goal percentage defense and eighth in scoring defense. However, the Green Terror leads the CC by wide margins in the offensive categories and is 12th nationally in team field-goal percentage.

defeating Gettysburg, 79-63, in a first-round game on Wednesday.

In 2004, the Green Terror ended the Mules’ season with an 83-76 semifinal win at Johns Hopkins.

Muhlenberg won both regular-season meetings with McDaniel, but barely. The Mules led for the majority of each game, only to have the Green Terror come back in the second half. On Jan. 12 in Westminster, Muhlenberg took a 65-64 lead on a jumper by senior Kristen Piscadlo with 33.4 seconds left, then sweated out three McDaniel misses to hang on. Last Thursday, freshman Lauren Boyle made three free throws in the last 45.9 seconds for the difference in a 64-61 win. The Green Terror missed a wide-open three-pointer at the final buzzer.

Those were just two of the many close games the Mules played. Of the team’s 23 wins, 11 are by single-digit margins. Muhlenberg won its last three home games by a total of nine points, each time scoring the winning points in the last two minutes.

“I think it’s a good thing that we’ve played so many close games,” said Smith. “It will give us an advantage if we get put in that position this weekend. When we know we have to play defense to get a stop, or we know we have to score, we can focus and put our minds to it.”

Should the Mules make it past McDaniel, they would face either a Johns Hopkins team they split with or a Dickinson squad they swept. Neither team enjoyed its last visit to Memorial Hall, where Muhlenberg is 13-0 this season: The Blue Jays lost 50-36 and the Red Devils 53-30.

“It’s a very comfortable atmosphere playing at home,” said Smith. “We have high expectations but we know how strong the other teams are, so we’ll have to play our best to come out on top.”

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Last updated February 24, 2006