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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

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men’s basketball silences hopkins crowd

As senior Brian Frankoski prepared to reenter the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team’s game at Johns Hopkins with under five minutes to play in regulation, a Blue Jay fan shouted incredulously, “Why is he going back in?”

After overtime, he knew.

Frankoski hit the game-tying layup with 2:39 to play, then drained
Spencer Liddic
Liddic hits the game-tying layup at the end of regulation.
the game-winning jumper with 1:53 remaining to lift the Mules (6-4, 4-0) to a 65-57 victory.

“I just laughed,” said Frankoski of being heckled. “It’s fun when crowds get into it like that. And I gave him a little look when I hit that jumper – there’s no reason I can’t have fun, too.”

It took some second-half heroics just to get Muhlenberg to overtime. Trailing 55-50 with1:12 to play in regulation, senior Ryan Foster, dubbed a “Blue Jay Killer” by Frankoski, drilled a three-pointer to pull the Mules to within two. After Hopkins missed a three of its own, sophomore Spencer Liddic put in a layup with 9.1 seconds remaining to tie the score.

“Coach had an option for every player on the team, and I happened to be the one open,” said Liddic. “I’m just glad my teammates had the confidence in me to hit the shot.”

After the Mules failed to score for the first 2:21 of the extra session, senior Peter Barnes found a cutting
Peter Barnes
Barnes’ dunk with 14:43 left in the second half gave the Mules a 32-26 lead. In addition to his double-double, Barnes had four assists (without a turnover) and blocked three shots. He also made several key defensive stops down the stretch.
Frankoski open under the basket, and Frankoski finished to tie the score at 57-57. Following a Blue Jay turnover, Frankoski faked a drive and hit a long jumper from the left wing for what proved to be the game-winning shot.

“The layup was just good patience on offense,” he said. “[Junior Evan] Tozer made a great back screen and Peter made a great pass.

“On the jumper, I was looking to go to the hoop and he bit on a fake. I’ve been working on my jumper a lot and just let it fly. It felt great.”

The exciting finish to regulation and overtime continued a series of thrilling games between Muhlenberg and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Last year Foster hit two triples in the final 1:04 and then blocked the Blue Jays’ last shot with 13 seconds remaining to seal a Mule victory, and two years ago Hopkins won in triple overtime.

Muhlenberg trailed by as many as nine in the first half, but a three
Ryan Foster
Foster scored eight of his 18 points in the last three minutes of regulation and overtime.
by the Blue Jay Killer himself, Foster, sent the Mules to halftime trailing 25-20.

A 14-1 run out of the break, which included a dunk by Barnes, pushed Muhlenberg ahead, 34-26. But a spur of threes by Hopkins brought the Blue Jays back and tied the score, 47-47, with 5:24 to play.

After Hopkins pulled ahead, 51-47, Foster drilled a trey from the left corner, then hit his fourth of the game 90 seconds later.

Following Liddic’s game-tying layup and Frankoski’s overtime heroics, Liddic and Foster combined to go 6-for-6 from the free-throw line to seal the win. For the game Muhlenberg was 14-for-16 from the charity stripe.

The victory not only kept the Mules in first place in the Centennial Conference as they prepare for a tough stretch against the other three playoff semifinalists from last season – McDaniel, Franklin & Marshall and Gettysburg – it also pushed them to 4-0 in the CC for the first time in school history.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Frankoski. “It’s great we’re off to such a good start, and we need to keep going and keep our confidence up because the games aren’t going to get any easier.”

Added Liddic, “Everyone’s going to be looking to knock us off.”

Foster finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with six rebounds. Barnes posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards, all of which came in the second half, and Liddic added 14 points.
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