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Muhlenberg College

Thursday, January 14, 2010

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Men’s basketball Track and field preview

women’s basketball wins on late layup

It was the great win that nearly wasn’t.

Freshman Alita Zabrecky almost turned the ball over before recovering it, then hit the game-winning basket with 5.4 seconds remaining to lift the No. 9 Muhlenberg women’s basketball team over 21st-ranked and previously unbeaten Gettysburg, 60-59.

Looking to penetrate, Zabrecky dribbled off her defender’s foot, but
Sheila Cook
Cook led the Mules in both points (18) and assists (three).
dove to the floor to save the possession. Just a few seconds later junior Sheila Cook caught an entry pass in the post, spun and found a wide-open Zabrecky cutting to the hoop. She nailed the layup, and Gettysburg’s shot at the buzzer was no good.

“My initial thought was to post up and go strong to the basket, and as I turned I saw Alita cutting, apparently for the rebound,” said Cook. “I flicked her the ball and screamed her name. It was a lot of pressure to hit that layup, especially for a freshman.”

For Zabrecky, it was redemption after a near-disastrous turnover.

“I thought I had lost the game for us,” she said.

But because she didn’t, the Mules (9-2, 7-1) are now back in familiar territory: first place. After suffering their first defeat in 28 games against Centennial Conference opponents on Tuesday, the Mules ended Gettysburg’s bid for a perfect season and, more importantly, jumped into a virtual tie with the Bullets (13-1, 8-1) at the top of the standings.

“We know what it’s like to feel that pressure to stay undefeated,” said Cook. “It feels
Kelly McKeon
Junior Kelly McKeon grabbed a defensive rebound to set the stage for the winning basket. She finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
really good to be the team to snap their streak.”

Snapping that streak seemed less likely in the first half, as Gettysburg started the game 7-for-9 from the field and jumped out to an early 14-7 lead. The Bullets’ lead grew to as high as 10 with 2:46 to play in the period.

But the Mules closed the half on a 9-1 run, led by Zabrecky. She hit layups on back-to-back possessions – both coming after offensive rebounds – to help pull Muhlenberg to within two entering the break.

Cook tied the game 10 seconds into the second half, but Gettysburg once again pulled ahead. Freshman Kate Clawson finally gave the Mules their first lead of the game at the 12:20 mark, drilling a three-pointer to make it 42-40.

But the lead would not last long, and a jumper put the Bullets up 59-55 with 2:11 to play. Zabrecky responded with a pull-up jumper from the free-throw line, and, after a Gettysburg turnover, Cook hit one of two free throws to cut the deficit to one.

Muhlenberg came up with two huge stops in the final minute before Zabrecky’s game-winning layup.

“We’ve been in tight games before and we’re used to it,” said Cook of the Mules’ calm in the late moments of close games. “We’ve had a bunch this year and we had a bunch last year; we’re used to playing in those games.”

Zabrecky posted her first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. She is the third different Mule guard in the last two games to record a double-double. Sophomore Alexandra Chili also netted 13 points.
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