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Muhlenberg College

Friday, February 29, 2008

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Championship Preview

Mules, it's playoff time

For the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team might be just a routine playing in the playoffs, but it’s sure that for two players it will be a special tournament. Seniors Michelle Feldman and Abra Like will do everything they can to play a few more games in a Mule uniform before finishing their collegiate basketball careers.

Muhlenberg will make its third consecutive trip to the Centennial Conference playoffs when it faces against Dickinson College in the first semifinal at 1:00 Saturday on the campus of Franklin & Marshall.

 Bethany Enterline
Enterline had crucial contribution in the victory against Dickinson last week, as she scored seven points off the bench during a 13-4 run in the second half.
“It could be our last game,” Feldman said. “We don’t know. But we are going to go out there and play really hard.”

The two teams were in fierce contention for the first place throughout the season, but slipups in the last regular season games, saw Franklin & Marshall emerge as the No. 1 seed and host of the championship.

Muhlenberg, Dickinson and F&M finished the regular season with identical records (14-4) in a rare three-way tie for the first place. The top three seeds were decided by virtue of a better head-to-head record among the teams.

Last week, the Mules defeated Dickinson, 68-62, snapping a four-game losing skid against the Red Devils.

“The fact that we beat them gives us confidence and shows us that they are beatable,” Feldman said.

In the first encounter between the two teams during the 2007-08 campaign, Muhlenberg lost 64-49 on Jan. 24.

“We learnt a lot about our weaknesses in the first game against Dickinson,” said Like, “and we were able to fix those during the course of the season.”

The Red Devils hold a slim 17-16 lead in the all-time series against Muhlenberg, including a 2-1 edge in playoff encounters.

Like and Feldman bring in the vital title-winning mentality as they already won silverware with the Mules, claiming the 2006 Centennial Conference crown. Then freshmen and current juniors Lauren Boyle, Erin McSherry, Kaitlin Strumph and Bethany Enterline were also members of the league-winning Muhlenberg squad.

With a number of knock-out games behind their backs (in their resumes), Feldman and Like are aware that playoff time is completely different from the regular season games.

“The emotion is higher,” Like said. “Everybody is hyped up and the intensity is up.”

“You know what’s on the line,” Feldman added. “One game and you’re out.”

With 14 postseason appearances in the last 15 years Muhlenberg is the most consistent women’s basketball program in the Centennial Conference. The squad has failed to qualify for the conference tournament only once in CC history.

They seem more than intent on adding another league crown to the ones earned in 1997, 1998 and 2006, but the competition is tougher than ever before.

“It’s one of these years when it could be anyone’s game,” Feldman said. “The top five-six teams were very close to each other and we didn’t know who was going to take first place until the very last game.”

Provided they eliminate Dickinson, the Mules will entertain the winner of the other semifinal between Franklin & Marshall and Gettysburg. The championship game is slated to start at 2:00 on Sunday.

“We expect to win and we know we can do it,” Feldman said.

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