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Muhlenberg College

Thursday, January 15, 2009

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Women’s basketball

Home is sweet at last
for men’s basketball vs. Hopkins

Ryan Foster knew his Muhlenberg men’s basketball team hadn’t beaten Johns Hopkins during his time with the Mules, but he didn’t know of one streak that dated to before he was born.

Muhlenberg came through down the stretch to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Blue Jays with a 64-57 win. It was the Mules’ first win at Memorial Hall against Johns Hopkins since the 1987 Scotty Wood Tournament, a span of 21 years and 13 games for a team that plays very well at home against almost everyone else.

“That’s amazing,” said Foster, who contributed to the win with 10 rebounds,
Spencer Liddic
This was one way Hopkins tried to stop Liddic, whose 22 points topped his previous career high of 20 set two nights earlier against Washington.
5 points, 2 blocks and one big assist. “We knew the seniors hadn’t beaten them. We really wanted to go out and get a win.”

Muhlenberg (7-5, 3-3) went out and got it after the Blue Jays, who came in tied for first in the Centennial Conference and with a six-game winning streak, hit two free throws with 3:15 left to tie the score at 56. Senior Chris MacIntosh drove to the basket 30 seconds later for a layup that put the Mules ahead for good.

After a Hopkins miss, Foster caught the ball in the post, got double-teamed and dished the ball to junior Peter Barnes for a layup that made the score 60-56.

Barnes made one of two free throws with 1:38 on the clock, and sophomore Evan Tozer added a pair at the 59-second mark. The Blue Jays (9-4, 4-2) broke the 7-0 run by making a free throw with 29 seconds left but missed their last eight field-goal attempts.

Hopkins came in shooting 46.9 percent from the field but was just 20-for-66 (30.3 percent) against a Muhlenberg defense that entered the week eighth in Division III in field-goal percentage defense.

“It’s because we’re so long,” said the 6-6 Foster. “It’s hard for other teams to get by us, and even when they do we can block shots. We emphasize holding the other team to a low shooting percentage.”

Six different Mules combined to block 11 shots in the game, including four by Barnes. Muhlenberg outrebounded the Blue Jays by 10 and held the visitors’ starting center, who had scored in double figures in 11 straight games, to seven points.

The size advantage also showed up on offense, where the “twin towers” of Barnes and freshman Spencer Liddic combined for 38 points. Liddic scored 16 of his career-high 22 points in the second half, helping the Mules to lead by as many as 10 points (41-31). The margin evaporated, however, after Johns Hopkins went to a press.

“We figured if the game was close they’d put on the press,” said Foster. “Teams know that we sometimes struggle against the press, and even though they came back to tie I think we did a really good job working through it.

“It showed big improvement from the Gettysburg game,” he added. In that game, just five days ago, Muhlenberg lost a 17-point lead in the second half and wound up losing by two. “There’s always runs in every game, and you have to stay calm.”
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