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Saturday, February 12, 2011

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Men’s basketball, wrestling

balanced scoring leads women’s basketball
to win, conference semis

The key to a healthy life? A balanced diet. The key to the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team’s win at McDaniel? Balanced scoring.

Only two Mules hit double figures, but
Alita Zabrecky, Kate Clawson
Fullcourt trapping defense, applied here by Zabrecky (4) and Kate Clawson, led to McDaniel shooting only 32.1 percent and committing 19 turnovers. The 42 points were the fewest allowed by the Mules this season.
seven different players scored at least five points as Muhlenberg cruised past the Green Terror, 67-42, to clinch a spot in the Centennial Conference semifinals.

“As a team we played really well as a unit,” sophomore Alita Zabrecky, who finished with nine points, said. “We were passing well and finding open shooters. We were able to get out in the open floor and create some easy shots.”

Muhlenberg currently sits in second place in the CC and holds a one-game lead on Gettysburg. The Mules (17-5, 14-4) are four games clear of the fourth spot, which means they will play the Bullets at Johns Hopkins in the 2-3 game of the conference tournament on Saturday, February 26.

After honoring its five seniors before the game, McDaniel (7-16, 5-13) showed a lot of early energy. The Green Terror grabbed a 5-0 lead on a three-point play less than two minutes in.

But that early jolt woke the Mules up. And thanks to a
Kelly McKeon
McKeon's line for the last two games: 27 points, 56.5 percent shooting, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 8 steals and 1 turnover in 58 minutes.
pair of midrange jumpers and a putback layup from senior Kelly McKeon and 3-pointers from Zabrecky and junior Alexandra Chili, Muhlenberg led by 13 midway through the first half before extending its lead to 18 at the break

“I think they just came out super enthused because it was their senior day,” Zabrecky said. “But once we got ahead we never looked back.”

The Green Terror hung around in the early stages of the second half, but a pair of quick, no-look passes from Zabrecky to senior Sheila Cook produced easy layups down low, and then sophomore Julie Kelly knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner to put Muhlenberg ahead by 22 with 12 minutes to play.

By that point the game was all but decided and Muhlenberg coasted the rest of the way.

But while the game lacked any last minute drama, Cook was able
Kathleen Naddaff
Naddaff's three offensive rebounds helped the Mules to a 50-32 advantage on the boards.
to add a little bit of humor when she stepped to the free throw line with a little less than seven minutes to play.

After the first shot Mule coach Ron Rohn tried to tell Cook who to guard on the next possession.

Only something got lost in translation as Cook had to ask three times what Rohn was saying before he finally pointed at the McDaniel player and said loud enough for the whole gym to hear, “You are to guard this girl right here.”

To which Cook replied with a hint of sarcasm, “OK, I understand you now,” before adding with a wry smile, “Wait, do you want me to guard her or her?”

The exchange drew laughter from the Mule fans that trekked to Westminster, and according to Cook just showed how comfortable she is with her coach.

“The ref was talking to me and then coach was trying to talk to me at the same time. I guess it was just sensory overload or something because I couldn’t hear what he was saying,” Cook said with a laugh after the game. “He kept saying it again and again, but I just didn’t get what he was saying.”

While there may have been some miscommunication between Cook and Rohn, the Mules’ offensive distribution was very clear.

McKeon and Chili led the Mules with 10 points apiece, all of which came in the first half.

Junior Kathleen Naddaff and freshman Leeann Lanza added seven and six, respectively, while Kelly chipped in five.

Lanza and McKeon also tied for the team lead with nine rebounds apiece, while Zabrecky dished out four assists.

The balanced effort is a welcomed sight for a team that spent much of November and December relying on a few players to carry the bulk of the scoring load.

Muhlenberg has had four different leading scorers in its last five games. And with only two more games until the CC tournament, Cook said the team could not have picked a better time to be spreading the wealth.

“One of our biggest shortcomings at the beginning of the season was if you shut down Chili we kind of fell apart. With Kelly [McKeon] being out, the dynamic was off,” Cook said. “Now it’s all starting to come back together and I think it has made us a much harder team to defend.

“Coach said he wishes that we could have January back and play it with our team now and I agree because I think a lot of those blown leads wouldn’t have been blown. We are playing much better as a team now.”
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