Women's Basketball Pulls Away to Advance to Scotty Wood Final

Friday, November 15, 2013

Men’s basketball

The Muhlenberg women’s basketball team found itself in a dogfight against a scrappy Rowan squad in its Scotty Wood Tournament opener. After absorbing some body blows, the Mules finally landed the knockout punch they knew was coming – and the Profs never got up off the mat.

After watching Rowan start the second half on a 14-4 run to take a four-point lead with just under 14 minutes remaining, Muhlenberg uncorked a 23-5 spurt and pulled away for a 92-72 victory. Junior Leanna Tallamy matched a career high with 18 points and added a career-high 14 rebounds to lead the Mules, who advanced to the tournament championship for the 21st consecutive year. Muhlenberg will meet Misericordia, a 74-58 winner over Catholic, in the final on Saturday night.

Janelle Fleet “This was a good competitive game for us,” said senior Erin Laney, who fell two points short of a career high with 18 and added four rebounds. “Sometimes the first game is an absolute blowout, and we come into the second game not so prepared because we didn’t have to play hard. This game tested us, especially our depth. A lot of people contributed tonight, and we really stepped up in the second half.”

Fourteen players saw the court and all but one scored for the Mules, who eventually wore down a smaller Profs team by coming at them in waves. Muhlenberg posted a 64-39 advantage in rebounding, with sophomore Christina Santone snagging a career-high nine boards and senior Leann Lanza contributing eight to go along with eight points, and forced 34 turnovers, including six during the decisive spurt.

Starting alongside fellow senior co-captains Lanza, Katy Mitton and Colleen Caldwell for the first time in their careers, Laney jumpstarted the Mules’ game-breaking run, knocking down a jumper out of a timeout and adding a pair of free throws to tie the game with 13 minutes to play. From then on, it was all Muhlenberg.

After the teams traded baskets, the Mules rattled off the next six points, junior Nicole Pepe (11 points, 5 rebounds) giving them the lead for good with a layup in transition and Laney capping the burst with another jumper. The Profs briefly stopped the bleeding with a three-point play, but Tallamy’s layin started a stretch of 11 consecutive points that gave Muhlenberg a 77-63 lead with seven minutes to go and put the game on ice.

“We go 15 deep every night, and some other teams can only go seven or eight deep,” said Laney, who finished 7-of-14 from the field and made four of her five free-throw attempts. “We have that advantage every night, and we use it. That run at the end of the game – we know it’s coming, we just have to bide our time. We know the other team is going to slow down, and that’s what they did.”

Junior Janelle Fleet (right) turned in an impressive opener, marking career-highs of six assists and six steals to go along with four points and three rebounds in a stellar all-around performance. Fleet missed most of the last two seasons due to injury, but looked plenty healthy leading the Mule offense along with Caldwell, who contributed four points and four assists.

Now it’s on to the championship, and a matchup with a tough Misericordia squad that looked dominant against a Catholic program that finished 27-2 and made the second round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago. After dropping a tight battle against King’s in last year’s final, the Mules have a little extra motivation to bring the trophy back to Allentown.

“We are definitely fired up,” Laney said. “We want Scotty Wood to come back to Muhlenberg where it belongs. Last year was definitely a bummer, because we don’t usually lose our own tournament. It should be a great game.”
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