Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Saturday, February 3, 2007
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This game may not have had the historical importance of previous wins against Franklin & Marshall, but that didn’t make it any less satisfying for the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team.

The Mules came from 18 points down two minutes into the second half to knock off the Diplomats, 71-69, and break an eight-game losing streak that began with a loss at F&M nearly a month ago.

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” said relieved senior Tom Scott, who hit the game-winning free throws. “A couple of guys had tears in
Tom Scott
Scott, whose other double-double came last year at Swarthmore, did much of his damage from the free-throw line, sinking 11 of 16 attempts. The Mules shot 39 free throws in the game
their eyes after the game.”

Playing in front of the nearly two dozen former Mules who returned to participate in the alumni game – many of whom were members of teams that defeated top-10 F&M squads in 1990, 1992, 1995 and 1996 – ’Berg shot 59 percent from the field in the second half to turn the 18-point deficit into a six-point lead at the two-minute mark.

The Diplomats (7-14, 6-8) came back to tie the score at 69 on a pair of free throws with 2.7 seconds left. Muhlenberg (6-14, 5-9) called timeout to set up a play for senior Jimmie Riggins to throw a baseball pass to Scott at the opposite foul line. Scott was pushed in the back and made both free throws with 2.2 ticks on the clock.

“It’s a play we work on every day in practice, because Jimmie has an unbelievable arm. As soon as the ball goes in the air, I try to seal my guy,” explained Scott. “[The F&M player] pushed me pretty hard, so I hoped the referee would blow the whistle, but I was ready to shoot if he didn’t.”

F&M could manage only a desperation three from halfcourt on its final possession.

The Mules (6-14, 5-9) made just one field goal in the first 8:30 and quickly fell into a double-digit hole. They trailed by 14 after shooting just 27 percent in the first half and were down 46-28 with 17:48 left on the game clock.

The margin was 17 with 13:43 to play when Muhlenberg began making its move. Two three-pointers by senior Chris Huber – the second after Scott’s offensive rebound of a missed free throw – keyed a 10-0 run that cut the gap to seven. Down 57-50 with nine minutes to play, the Mules went on an 8-0 run to take a one-point lead on a Riggins free throw with 6:07 left.

The teams seesawed back and forth until the Diplomats got careless with the ball. With the score 62-61, senior Christopher Strachan intercepted a long inbounds pass, then fed sophomore Mike Bernardini for a three-pointer. Huber stole the ball on the next possession and passed to Bernardini for a layup to make the score 67-61 with 2:05 left.

Muhlenberg made only two of its next four free throws, however, and the Dips hit two three-pointers to get back in the game.

Scott finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for his second career double-double. Huber was 3-for-4 from three-point range in a 16-point performance, while Bernardini (11) and Riggins (10) also hit double figures in points.

The happiest player of all may have been one who didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Senior Chris Pothering, who transferred from F&M midway through his freshman year, had to watch the last game against his former team from the bench due to an injury he suffered at Haverford on Wednesday.

“Before the game I promised Chris we’d win the game for him,” said Scott. “I’m glad I didn’t have to break my promise.”

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Last updated February 3, 2007