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Friday, March 4, 2011

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Softball preview

chili last-second three sends
women’s basketball to second round

Mules win! With the clock winding dangerously low, Alexandra Chili did not have time to think.

So when she caughtKelly McKeon’s pass while almost falling out of bounds with a defender in her face, all she could do was throw
Alexandra Chili
Chili was 6-for-10 on three-pointers, running her career total on threes to 250. Coincidentally, she also made six threes in the Mules’ first-round win against Westfield State in 2009.
up a shot from deep in the corner.

And as has happened many times during Chili’s career, the shot rattled home.

But unlike those hundreds of other shots, this 3-pointer with 1.0 second remaining gave the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team a thrilling 64-63 win over Williams and moved the Mules on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in school history.

Muhlenberg (22-5) advances to face host Rochester, a 70-52 winner over Daniel Webster, at 7 p.m. tomorrow for a berth in the “Sweet 16”.

“It’s hard to describe,” Chili said of her game-winner. “It’s a great feeling having everyone rush the court. They lifted me up, and then dropped me; I really hope not too many people noticed that.

“The NCAA Tournament is something your work for all season. It’s really a reward because each game is never promised, so I’m just really excited that we’re able to continue our season.”

It was the third last-second game-winner of Chili’s career, but it was the first one to come in a make-or-go-home situation.
Leeann Lanza
Freshman Leeann Lanza scored 10 points in her first career NCAA Tournament game. She also blocked a pair of shots.
What made it even more miraculous, according to McKeon, was how Chili was twisting her body, while fading away with a hand in her face.

“She ended up shooting it from almost behind the backboard,” McKeon said. “When she came around the corner I didn’t think she was going to be so far in the corner, but the momentum carried her.

“But wow, I don’t even know what to say. I’m stunned to be honest. That was so crazy; it was a picture-perfect win. I am so unbelievably happy right now.”

Chili’s shot capped a wild back-and-forth affair that saw the two teams trade leads eight times in the final 10 minutes.

After Muhlenberg controlled play for most of the first 30 minutes, Williams (21-6) took its first lead of the game with 9:36 to play in regulation.

But back-to-back buckets by McKeon, and a pair of 3-pointers from Chili helped the Mules go blow-for-blow with the Ephs and keep it a one-possession game.

Senior Sheila Cook hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to even the score, 61-61, with 1:39 to play. But the Ephs responded with a bucket
Kelly McKeon
McKeon has recorded double-doubles in all three of the Mules’ postseason games this year.
as the shot clock expired to move in front, 63-61, with 12.1 seconds to play.

Well under the bonus, Williams fouled on consecutive inbounds passes to try to melt the clock. McKeon missed a tough layup in traffic with less than three seconds to play, but it deflected off the hands of an Eph to give Muhlenberg the ball and set the stage for Chili.

McKeon, whose lone assist came on the game winner, once again played well above her height as she pulled down 13 rebounds to go along with 13 points .

But while those stats will fade with time, she said, the memory of the dramatic win will be with her forever.

“A game like this is something that no one can ever take away from us,” McKeon said. “This is a game that we will all remember forever, and I am just so thankful I get to extend my career at least one more game.”

Chili finished with 24 points to give her 515 on the season, the most ever by a Muhlenberg basketball player (male or female).

Yet she, too, could not get past the enormity of the situation. Game-winning shots are part of what makes the NCAA Tournament special, she said, and to be a part of that magic was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“This is definitely one of my most favorite memories of my entire basketball career,” Chili said. “This is the NCAA Tournament; this is what we have all dreamed about.

“I’ve also really enjoyed playing with all of our seniors, so it was really special to me because it’s at least one more game that we get to play together.”
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