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Muhlenberg College

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

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men’s basketball prevails in ot

After sitting out the first four games of 2009 with an injury, Mike Bernardini figured he’d play just a few minutes in his first game back.

The senior, just like the rest of the Muhlenberg men’s
Ryan Foster
Foster had a hand in 13 of the Mules’ first 14 points, scoring 11 and assisting on a basket.
basketball team, got more than he bargained for.

Bernardini played 20 minutes and scored eight of his nine points in crunch time as the Mules (6-5, 2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with an 82-79 overtime win against Washington.

“It felt good to be back,” said a tired Bernardini after the game. “We needed this win.”

It didn’t come easy. The game featured 11 lead changes and 10 ties. The Shoremen (4-8, 1-4) led for the last 4:30 of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second, though never by more than eight points. Muhlenberg took a 64-61 lead into the final minute of regulation, but Washington scored four points on one possession to go up 65-64.

Senior Chris MacIntosh made a free throw with 51.8 seconds left to tie the game back up at 65. After a Shoremen miss, Muhlenberg called timeout to set up a play for Bernardini, whose post move led to a three-point play with 17.5 seconds left. Washington hit a three-pointer with 6.8 seconds on the clock to send the game into overtime.

“I had just missed two free throws and made a terrible foul on a three-pointer, but Coach had the confidence to call a play for me,” said Bernardini. “Pete [Barnes] made a great pass and I made a move we’ve been practicing. They came down and hit the three, but I think it gave us a boost for overtime.”

The Mules started quickly in the extra period, with freshman Spencer Liddic scoring off a putback on the first possession, then blocking a shot, which led to a three-point play by Barnes.

Washington scored the next four points to cut the gap to one, but Bernardini’s three-pointer from the wing gave Muhlenberg a 76-72 lead with 2:49 on the clock. MacIntosh and Bernardini combined to go 4-for-4 from the line in the last 28.9 seconds, and the Mules survived another potential game-tying three-pointer with 2 seconds left.

Early on, Muhlenberg struggled with the quickness of the Shoremen, who despite their lack of height have played eight games (out of 12) decided by four points or fewer. The Mules started out 0-for-10 from the field before junior Ryan Foster hit three straight three-pointers.

“They get up and down the floor, they’re quick and they’re good shooters,” said Bernardini. “It’s tough … you have to be aware at all times and be in good shape. We got out of our game by trying to push the ball because they were pushing it, but in the end we combated it with our strength.”

That strength was inside with Liddic (20 points, 13 rebounds) and Barnes (17 points, 14 rebounds), who both posted double-doubles. Both of Liddic’s totals were career highs, while Barnes scored all but two of his points after halftime.

“We know that when we get the ball inside, good things will happen,” Bernardini noted.

Foster (15 points, 8 rebounds) just missed giving the Mules three players with double-doubles, and MacIntosh finished with 10 points and 7 assists.

Since the start of Centennial Conference play in 1994, Washington is 0-16 at Memorial Hall.
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