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Muhlenberg College

Saturday, December 12, 2009

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Women’s basketball, wrestling


It may have been the second night to light the menorah for those celebrating Hanukkah, but for the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team, it was a second chance to light up Moravian this season.

The Mules did just that, traveling to Bethlehem to knock off the Greyhounds 74-55 after defeating them in the consolation of the Scotty Wood Tournament earlier in the year.

Matt O’Hara
Freshman Matt O’Hara dished out five of Muhlenberg’s season-high 20 assists.
And though the first win helped Muhlenberg (5-3) save face in its season-opening tournament, this one may have been even bigger, considering the Mules’ recent struggles (2-6 in their previous eight trips) at Moravian.

“It’s always so much better to get a road win, especially here, where there are so many fans for the Muhlenberg-Moravian game,” said senior Ryan Foster. “After last year we knew they were a completely different team here, and we prepared for it and handled their pressure well.”

It didn’t appear that way when the Mules turned it over on their first possession, but they settled down and a built an early 13-4 lead. Senior Peter Barnes threw down two highlight-reel dunks in the early going, slamming a missed layup and then finishing an alley-oop on consecutive possessions.

“He’s just incredible,” said Foster. “Watching Peter dunk on people is always a lot of fun.”

Moravian (1-7) fought back to cut the deficit to just one at 17-16, but another thunderous Barnes dunk with 32 seconds to play capped a 19-8 Muhlenberg run. The Mules entered the break leading 36-26 on the strength of hot shooting (51.7 percent from the field) and outstanding defense, holding the Greyhounds to just five field goals on 16.7 percent shooting.

“We held them to five baskets, but we gave them 19 free throws and 11 offensive rebounds,” said Foster. “We should have had a bigger lead, and coach told us to focus on improving those without losing sight of what got us the lead in the first place.”

The Mules not only improved on those numbers and continued their great shooting (50.0 percent) in the second half, they also came out of halftime ready to run.

With a fast-paced transition game working, Muhlenberg outscored Moravian 28-9 in the first 9:12 of the second period. After a Greyhound jumper made it 51-35, the Mules went on a 13-0 run, highlighted by easy layups by senior Obi Nwizugbo in transition on great feeds from senior Brian Frankoski and sophomore Justin Greenstone.

“In the beginning it was tough getting used to a new system where we run up and down a lot, but every game we get better at it,” said Foster. “It just shows we are really unselfish as a team.”

Foster led Muhlenberg with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and eight rebounds. Barnes finished with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and three blocks, all in the first half. Sophomore Spencer Liddic went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line as part of a 10-point performance.

The win not only pushed the Mules’ winning streak to four, it also gave Muhlenberg a remarkable 7-2 lead in the Matte Award standings in 2009-10.

“We knew about it coming in,” said Foster. “We didn’t want to be the team that let them back into it.”
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.

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