Men's Basketball Wins in Historic Comeback

Monday, November 26, 2012

James Albano didn’t call his banked-in three-pointer. And he didn’t call his team’s much-needed win at King’s, but he had an idea it was coming.

The Muhlenberg men’s basketball team outscored King’s 40-19 in the second half to erase a 10-point halftime deficit and snap a two-game losing skid with a 67-56 win.

Kevin Hargrove
In addition to his double-double, Hargrove recorded this block in the first half.
It was the first time in the shot-clock era that the Mules won by double digits after trailing by double digits at halftime.

“We kind of had the feeling our time was coming,” said Albano. “We know the type of team we are, and we knew we were talented enough to win this game.”

James Albano
"BANK!" Albano scored five points, grabbed a pair of rebounds and blocked a shot in nine second-half minutes.
Some of the talent that rose during the second-half rally included sophomore Malique Killing, who scored a game-high 21 points (to go along with four assists, three steals and no turnovers) and held the Monarchs’ top shooter to 1-of-8 from the field. Junior Kevin Hargrove recorded his seventh career double-double with 17 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.

The Mules (2-2) trailed 45-34 early in the second half before going on a 20-5 run to seize control. Albano tied the game at 48 with 9:22 remaining by hitting a fallaway jumper after rebounding Hargrove’s missed free throw.

After Muhlenberg got two defensive stops, junior Austin Curry drove into the lane and dished off to junior Brandon Bovino, who made the layup and a foul shot to give Muhlenberg its first lead since 7-4 in the first two minutes of the game.

King’s (2-2) responded with a bucket to cut the lead to 51-50, but on the next possession Bovino hustled for an offensive rebound and got the ball to Killing, who drove the baseline and kicked it out to Albano at the top of the key. The junior’s shot went off the glass and in, extending the margin to 54-50.

“It was that pregame lift I did that kind of gave me that little extra oomph in my shot,” joked Albano, who walked off the court with a grin on his face when the Mules called timeout after the three-pointer.

The game wasn’t over yet. The Monarchs hit an unbanked three to make it 54-53 with 5:32 to play and had four possessions with a chance to reclaim the lead. But each time Muhlenberg held the home team to one shot.

Finally, with 2:44 left, Hargrove made a pair of free throws to give the Mules some breathing room, and after another King’s one-shot possession, freshman Alec Stavetski buried his second three-pointer of the game to double the lead.

Two free throws by Killing and a reverse layup by Hargrove completed the 9-0 run and gave Muhlenberg its first double-digit lead at 63-53 with just over a minute to play.

Rebounding was a big key in the second half for the Mules, who shot just 29 percent in the last 20 minutes. After getting outrebounded 21-19 in the first half, Muhlenberg turned the tables in the second, with a 31-16 edge on the boards. The Monarchs had only two offensive rebounds in the second half.

“We really wanted to come out and be more physical in the second half,” said Albano. “We knew if we were more physical and held them to one shot we would win the rebounding battle, and if we did that it would get us back in the game.”

Bovino finished with a career-high 10 rebounds to go along with his five points, and even senior point guard Matt O’Hara got into the rebounding act, pulling down a career-high nine.

The big comeback win couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, with two Centennial Conference games coming up this week.

“It was definitely a big win,” said Albano. “We came out in the second half and played together as a team. We didn’t let being down tear us apart.”
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