Defense Leads Men's Basketball to Tournament Championship

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Champs! On its way to playing in a tournament in Washington, D.C., the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team stopped for a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol, learning interesting facts about the history of the building.

Although they didn’t visit the Pentagon, the Mules looked like they picked up some pointers from the Department of Defense too.

Muhlenberg held Medgar Evers to 24-percent shooting and 30 points below its season average in the championship game to capture the Gallaudet Holiday Tournament title with an 83-43 win.

Freshman Malique Killing was named tournament MVP after scoring 16 points in the final, while senior Spencer Liddic (18 points, 11 rebounds) was named to the all-tournament team.

In the two tournament games, the Mules (5-1) allowed 60 and 43 points. That was after giving up 73, 73, 83 and 72 in their first four games.

Kevin Hargrove
Hargrove's lefty hook and foul shot gave the Mules a 20-14 lead midway through the first half. He scored eight points.
“We came together in practice on Friday, and we really focused on not being selfish and playing for our team,” said sophomore Kevin Hargrove. “That all starts with defense.”

Muhlenberg trailed 21-20 with 8:47 left in the first half before kicking up the defense in earnest. The Cougars (3-3) made only one field goal the rest of the half, and the Mules closed out on a 23-3 run to take a 19-point lead into the locker room.

They didn’t let up in the second half

Malique Killing
Back-to-back layups 33 seconds apart by Killing, the second off a steal, highlighted the big run late in the first half.
either, allowing only 19 points in the last 20 minutes. Forced to take outside shots, Medgar Evers was just 2-for-31 from three-point range, and its lone make in the second half was banked in.

“Our goal was to keep the ball out of the paint,” said Hargrove. “Penetration was hurting us in those games in the 70s.”

Hargrove, whose nickname is “Chief,” was chief to Muhlenberg’s defensive effort, blocking two shots and pulling down a team-leading 12 rebounds. The Mules outrebounded the Cougars, 60-43.

Freshman AJ Dean just missed a double-double, with 15 points and nine rebounds, and freshman Gabriel Mercer scored 13 points for the second game in a row. Junior Hunter Forsman blocked two shots, pulled down eight rebounds and punctuated the big win with a dunk.

The 40-point margin of victory was the largest ever for Muhlenberg in a tournament championship game, besting an 89-60 win against Moravian in the 1991 Scotty Wood Tournament. Coming on the heels of a Scotty Wood Tournament title last weekend, the Mules have won two tournaments in a season for the first time since 2001-02.

Now they have their sights set on a third.

“These two [tournament] wins were nice, but now we have to get back to trying to win the conference championship,” said Hargrove. “That’s our ultimate goal.”
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