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Muhlenberg College

Monday, December 7, 2009

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women’s basketball wins top-25 matchup

What makes the good teams good? Depth and balance. If one player is having an off-day or cannot play, another steps in and picks up the slack.

And so with ace three-point shooter Alexandra Chili on the bench with four fouls, the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team turned to another long-range threat: 6-1 sophomore center Kathleen Naddaff.

Naddaff swished in a three on her first career
Sheila Cook
Cook scored 10 of her 16 points in the first half.
attempt to halt an 8-0 run and help the Mules to an 84-71 win at Moravian in a showdown between nationally ranked Lehigh Valley rivals.

Muhlenberg (5-1) was ranked 16th in last week’s D3hoops.com poll, and Moravian (5-2) was 23rd. The new poll, scheduled to come out on Tuesday, will not reflect the result of this game.

The victory gave Muhlenberg a 6-2 lead in the Matte Award standings for 2009-10, with men’s basketball to play at Moravian on Saturday. It also created an interesting early-season triangle among what figure to be three of the top teams in the region, Muhlenberg, Moravian and fourth-ranked Scranton: All have double-digits wins against one of the others on the road. Muhlenberg won by 13 at Moravian, Moravian won by 10 at Scranton, and Scranton won by 20 at Muhlenberg.

The Mules got another phenomenal performance by junior Kelly McKeon, who posted game highs of 18 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals. McKeon was involved in all four baskets, with two field goals and two assists, in a 9-0 run that gave Muhlenberg a 13-4 lead and control of the game.

Moravian was down seven with 4:30 on the
Alita Zabrecky
Freshman Alita Zabrecky pulled down a game-high four offensive rebounds, helping the Mules to a 52-31 edge on the boards. Muhlenberg had as many offensive rebounds (19) as the Greyhounds had defensive rebounds.
clock before the Mules ended the half on a 15-3 run to take a 19-point lead into the locker room.

Two free throws in the opening 20 seconds of the second half extended the margin to 21, but Moravian would not go away. An 18-5 run brought the Greyhounds to within eight, and after Muhlenberg pushed its lead up back up to 15, the home team reeled off eight straight points to make the score 64-57 with 7:36 left in the game.

That’s when Naddaff came through, calmly nailing a three from the left wing with the shot clock running down to end a near-four-minute scoring drought.

“I take them all the time in practice,” she said. “I was open, I felt confident, and I knew I had to do something to pump the team up. So I shot it and it went in.”

The Greyhounds cut the spread to seven one more time, but with only 2:48 remaining, and Muhlenberg put the game away with free throws and a pair of breakaway layups.

Junior Sheila Cook finished with 16 points, and Chili scored 14, all in the first half. She was 4-for-6 from three-point range to help the Mules build their big lead but did not take a shot in the second half due to her foul troubles.

Freshman Kate Clawson also shot well from behind the arc, going 3-for-4 for nine of her 13 points. Muhlenberg shot 50 percent on three-pointers, while Moravian – which was 8-of-12 on treys in last year’s 98-87 win against Muhlenberg – misfired on all 13 of its long-range tries.

The 13-point margin of victory was the greatest for the Mules against Moravian since 1979.

“It feels amazing,” said Naddaff. “Clearly they’re a very good team. We came in here and took it right to them.”
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.

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