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Muhlenberg College

Monday, January 18, 2010

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second-half surge pushes
women’s basketball past desales

Do Muhlenberg and DeSales play some thrilling games in women’s basketball? Is Ed “Too Tall” Jones too tall?

The latest edition of the spirited local rivalry played out to form, as the Mules
Chili has scored in double figures in every game this year. This was her third game with at least 25 points.
overcame a 15-point second-half deficit and pulled away in the last four minutes to defeat the Bulldogs, 74-68.

The win was Muhlenberg’s fifth straight in the regular season against DeSales, and all have come by single-digit margins. The teams also played in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, with the Bulldogs winning by eight.

The win also gave the Mules a sweep over their two Lehigh Valley rivals, Moravian and DeSales, for the third time in five years.

“We always seem to get pumped up to play them. There’s so many local people here and we know people will be talking about it around Allentown,” said senior Alexis Bates, whose only points of the game contributed to the comeback.

Muhlenberg (11-2) trailed 56-49 when Bates was fouled putting back an offensive rebound with 7:24 left. She made both free throws, and a three-pointer and good jumper by sophomore Alexandra Chili completed the 7-0 run to tie the score at 56 with 5:30 to play. It was the first time DeSales didn’t lead since the game was 2-2.

At the four-minute mark, the game was tied at 60. Chili found an open Alita Zabrecky under the basket for a layup that gave the Mules their first lead, then fed junior Kelly McKeon for a baseline jumped to put Muhlenberg up by four.

A six-point Mule lead was cut in half when the Bulldogs converted a three-point play with 1:15 to play. After inbounding the ball, Muhlenberg broke the DeSales press when Zabrecky made a long pass to Chili on the wing. Instead of dribbling around to run some clock or waiting to get fouled, Chili shot the three-pointer and nailed it, giving the Mules a 71-65 lead with 57.5 seconds left and effectively sealing the win.

“That’s probably what I should have done,” said Chili of running time off. “But I was feeling it so I thought I’d let one loose and try to decide the game.”

Chili finished with a game-high 26 points, 20 of which came in the second half. She also had nine rebounds and six assists. McKeon had 13 points and eight rebounds, and junior Sheila Cook scored 15 points before fouling out.

The Bulldogs, who came in with an uncharacteristic 6-8 record, controlled play for the first 20 minutes. They went 4-of-5 from three-point range and forced 13 Mule turnovers in the first half. Ahead by 11 at one point, DeSales took a 36-28 lead into the break.

A 10-1 run early in the second half extended the bulge to 48-33 before Muhlenberg made its move.

“When we were down 15 I was a little nervous,” said Bates. “But honestly, I never think we’re going to lose. I always think we’re going to find a way to pull it out.”

The Mules were able to pull this one out because, in the second half, they handled the ball better (only six turnovers) and shot better (45.2 percent to 29.4 percent in the first half). They also dominated the boards, owning an incredible 60-32 rebounding edge. No Muhlenberg player reached double figures in rebounds, but five had at least seven.
Click here for box score.
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