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Muhlenberg College

Saturday, January 23, 2010

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Track & field, wrestling

MEN’S BASKETBALL WON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL

Before every game, junior Kevin O’Hara leads the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team in a warmup cheer that culminates with him throwing a towel as high as he can.

After senior captain Peter Barnes went down indefinitely with an injury, the Mules could have easily just thrown in the towel, as well.

But with an impressive 61-48 win over Johns Hopkins, Muhlenberg (9-7, 7-3) proved that even without its anchor it is still one of the top teams in the Centennial Conference.

“Pete is obviously our heart and soul,” said O’Hara. “But we have a bunch of guys who know what they’re doing also. We have a lot of good leaders, and Pete is still there everyday, so he’s still a leader for us, too.”

The Mules dropped two straight adjusting to life without their big man in the middle, but against Hopkins (8-8, 4-5) they kept pace in the playoff chase, moving into a three-way tie for second place and dropping the sixth-place Blue Jays 2.5 games back.

Justin Greenstone
Greenstone has made a habit of giving up his body to draw turnovers.
And despite being down a 6-9 center, the Mules got a remarkable defensive performance all around, including one from sophomore Justin Greenstone, who made his first career start despite being a full foot shorter than Barnes. Greenstone blocked two shots – including one of Hopkins’ 6-8 center late in the second half – and drew a charge on the perimeter during a 7-0 Muhlenberg run early in the game.

“Justin gives us a different look, helping us handle pressure easier,” said O’Hara. “Now we’ve got two ball handlers in there. We’ve talked all season about turnover prevention, and having two point guards in there helps.”

The Mules also once again got great performances from sophomore Spencer Liddic and senior Ryan Foster. Liddic recorded his sixth double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and pulling down 14 boards. Foster netted 19 points, shooting 5-of-8 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free-throw line.

Then there was junior Evan Tozer, who took a pass off the opening tip and raced down the court for a layup eight seconds into the game, setting the tone and getting Muhlenberg’s rowdiest home crowd of the season into a frenzy.

“We had a great crowd today,” said O’Hara. “That really pumped us up.”

The Mules led by as many as 11 points in the first half and entered the break leading 27-20. The Blue Jays got as close as five with 3:47 to play in the game, but the “Blue Jay Killer” Foster carried Muhlenberg from there, going 4-for-4 from the line, assisting on a three by freshman Matt O’Hara and taking a long inbounds pass from Tozer to the rack for a game-clinching layup with 1:01 to play.

Defensively, the Mules not only held an opponent under 50 points for the second time this season, they also allowed just two free throws the entire game. By comparison, Muhlenberg went to the line 25 times.

“That’s just our ability to stay on the ground and not jump on pump fakes,” said O’Hara. “It also probably helped being at home with a loud crowd, but we’ll take any help we can get.”

Tozer joined Liddic and Foster in double figures with 13 points to go along with three assists. Matt O’Hara added eight points and three assists.
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.

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