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Saturday, February 19, 2011

 January 31  | February 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28 | March 1

Women’s basketball Track & field, men's tennis

men’s basketball bombs ursinus
in season finale

An early detonation of the Bomb Squad defused Ursinus’ playoff hopes.

The Muhlenberg men’s basketball team, which took the court with three players making their first career start, roared out to a 20-6 lead and was never threatened in defeating Ursinus, 82-53, in the last game of the season for both teams.

The Mules (13-12, 9-9) were eliminated from playoff contention when Haverford defeated Swarthmore, 75-52. The Bears
Kevin O'Hara
It was a fantastic finish for Kevin O'Hara ...
could have clinched the fifth and final Centennial Conference playoff berth with a win, but ran into a hot-shooting Muhlenberg team.

In addition to ending the season on a positive note, the win was noteworthy for junior Spencer Liddic breaking the 40-year-old school record for points in a season. Liddic came into the game needing 18 and scored 19 to eclipse the mark of 508 points set by all-time scoring leader Bob McClure in 1970-71.

Liddic started the game with the four seniors playing for the last time as Mules. Evan Tozer normally starts, but the other three - Steve Cavanaugh, David Gwyn and Kevin O’Hara - had more specialized roles.

Since early January, that trio, along with two freshmen, made up the Bomb Squad, a group that would enter the game as a unit in the first half and play as hard as it could. The Bomb Squad could run any offense and any defense it wanted to, but as soon as it gave up a point it had to return to the bench.

“When coach approached us with the idea, it was a matter of minutes before we
David Gwyn
... Gwyn ...
said yes,” said Cavanaugh, who until the advent of the Bomb Squad had played in only 20 games in his first three-and-a-half years at Muhlenberg. “I’m glad we did it. Some nights we had success and other nights it didn’t work out so well, but it was a really positive thing for us to go out and give the team some energy.”

The three Bomb Squaders gave the Mules and the large Memorial Hall crowd plenty of energy, and so much more, at the start of the game. O’Hara drove in for a layup off the opening tip, and Cavanaugh buried a jumper two minutes later. Cavanaugh’s three-pointer off a pass from O’Hara, a Liddic layup off a pass from Gwyn and Tozer’s three on a Cavanaugh assist gave Muhlenberg a 17-6 lead a little more than five minutes into the game.

“It was no surprise to any of us,” said Cavanaugh of the hot start. “We’ve been playing together for four years, and we work really well together.”

Ursinus (12-13, 9-9) could never recover. The Mules made 11 of their
Steve Cavanaugh
... and Cavanaugh.
first 15 shots to take a 29-10 lead with 8:40 left in the first half. The margin would balloon to 26 late in the first half, and Muhlenberg finished with its highest-scoring first 20 minutes (44 points) of the season.

A 24-point halftime lead was no sure thing against a Bear team that came in second in the CC in scoring, averaging 72.9 points per game, and had scored 66 points in the second half to come back from a large deficit and beat Swarthmore earlier in the season.

Muhlenberg made sure that wouldn’t happen again. Ahead 48-25 just over two minutes into the half, the Mules went on an 11-0 run and held Ursinus without a field goal for more than six minutes to put the game away.

The only drama remaining was whether or not Liddic would get the record, and he did by powering in a layup with 4:05 remaining.

Tozer finished his career with a bang, scoring 16 points on the strength of 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range. As a team Muhlenberg shot 57.1 percent while holding the Bears to 35.8-percent shooting.

Freshman James Albano tied his career high with 9 points, and sophomore Matt O’Hara recorded 9 assists, coming within one of being the first Mule to reach double figures in assists in 14 years.

But the day clearly belonged to the seniors, who made the most of their opportunity.

“It felt great,” said Cavanaugh. “It’s been a long road for me personally, but I’m glad I stuck it out because I was here for my teammates, and that’s what I told them in our meeting yesterday. I’m glad I was able to go out on a positive note.”

Cavanaugh tied his career high with 7 points; O’Hara scored 5 and added 3 assists; and Gwyn went out with 4 points, 2 assists and 2 steals.

“The seniors might not have had the careers they would have wanted,” said Liddic. “But they come into practice every single day, even if they know they’re only going to play a minute in the games, and compete.

“This win today is a complete credit to them. They set the example of playing good defense and moving the ball around. This win is something they really earned.”
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