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Muhlenberg College

Monday, February 2, 2009

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women’s basketball gets desales back

Trying to navigate against the press early in the second half, Muhlenberg sophomore Kelly McKeon ran – smack! – into a DeSales player and fell to the ground.

After taking
hug
Boyle (far left) and McSherry (near left) combined for 42 points during the game and a heartfelt hug after it.
a few moments to clear the cobwebs, McKeon stood up and remained in the game. The Mules may have been knocked down by the Bulldogs, but – unlike last year – they weren’t knocked out.

Muhlenberg defeated DeSales, 77-68, in a matchup of two nationally ranked Lehigh Valley women’s basketball teams, avenging a 56-48 loss to DeSales in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament.

“This was a huge game for us,” said senior Erin McSherry. “Ever since the beginning of the season, we wanted to play them and get revenge for last year.”

It was a huge game for McSherry – maybe her hugest as a Mule. She scored a career-high 24 points (17 in the second half) on 10-of-12 shooting.

The Bulldogs (16-3) came into the game ranked 14th in Division III by D3hoops.com, while the Mules (17-3) were ranked 22nd. Both teams proved worthy of ranking with a thrilling, back-and-forth contest played at a high level. Despite the fast pace of play and aggressive defense on both sides, the teams combined for only 22 turnovers. Both point guards played the entire 40 minutes without committing a turnover.

“It was a really intense game,” said McSherry. “It always Lauren Boyle Erin McSherry feels better to win when the other team is playing just as hard.”

DeSales was the first team to open up a lead of more than four points, going on an 8-2 run to take a 28-21 lead with just under five minutes to play in the first half. But the Mules closed out the half on an 11-2 run of their own to take a two-point lead into the locker room.

Junior Maiza Mock helped spark the comeback by stealing a pass, which led to McKeon finding freshman Alexandra Chili for a three from the corner in transition. Senior Lauren Boyle hit a jumper from the top of the key with 4.3 seconds left in the half to put Muhlenberg on top, 32-30.

The Mules ran their lead to nine points, 47-38, in the second half, but to no one’s surprise, DeSales came back. The Bulldogs took their final lead of the game, 56-55, with nine minutes to play, but Muhlenberg responded by scoring the next eight points, the last four by McSherry.

DeSales drew to within two, 68-66, as the two-minute mark approached. A putback by McSherry and two free throws by sophomore Sheila Cook were answered by a Bulldog basket, making the score 72-68 with 1:33 left.

On the Mules’ next possession, with the shot clock winding down, Boyle dribbled into the lane, drew a defender and passed to McSherry for a layup and a foul. The three-point play effectively ended the game.

Boyle finished with 18 points, while Cook added 12. McKeon had 9 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.

Then there was Chili (10 points, 5 assists), one of two Mules who played in the game who were not at Muhlenberg for last year’s NCAA loss. But they knew all about the significance of the game.

“I’m so happy for our seniors. This is the one game they really wanted,” said freshman Kathleen Naddaff, who hit two big baskets in the first half. “I don’t think we’ve been as excited to win a game all year as we are tonight.”
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.

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