Men's Basketball Turns Up "D" to Win Third Straight

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - page 2

The Muhlenberg men’s basketball team boasts the Centennial Conference’s highest-scoring offense. But in the past few games, the Mules have shown they can play a little defense too.

That was the case against Swarthmore as Muhlenberg held the Garnet to a chilly 30.2 percent shooting from the field to pick up a 68-51 win. It’s the second game in row the Mules have held their opponent to under 55, and the 51 points are the second-fewest they have surrendered this season.

With the win, Muhlenberg (13-7, 7-6) remained in a tie for fourth place in the Centennial Conference with

James Albano
Sophomore James Albano hit his first three-pointer of the season with 12:04 left in the second half, giving the Mules a 14-point lead, their biggest to that point.
five games left in the regular season, although the tie is now between two teams (the other is Johns Hopkins) instead of four.

On a night when “D” was the key, the toughest task on the floor belonged to junior Austin Curry, who was charged with covering Will Gates, the conference’s second-leading scorer. Despite giving up five inches to Gates, he proved to be more than up to the challenge, holding him to just six points, 12 below his average, to help stymie the Garnet offense.

But according to Curry, it was more than just a one-man effort, especially with the interior presence of senior Spencer Liddic and junior Hunter Forsman.

“It might sound weird, but I actually have the easy part. All I have to do is follow him around,” Curry said. “And when you’ve got big guys in the middle, it makes it a lot easier. All I had to do was funnel him to Spencer and Hunter, and then there wasn’t much he could do when he got inside.”

While the Mules were able to eventually snuff out the Garnet, it wasn’t so easy in the

Spencer Liddic
Liddic now has 40 career double-doubles, one short of the CC record.
early stages. Swarthmore (1-19, 1-12) used a 10-2 run midway through the first half to take an 18-11 lead at the 9:24 mark.

But the Mules held the Garnet without a field goal for the next 7:53 to grab control.

Sophomore Brian Leeds got the run started with a putback layup, and Liddic knocked down four straight free throws. Freshman Malique Killing converted a fast break layup, and then Curry hit a foul shot before the highlight of the night.

Drawing a triple team on the left block, Liddic delivered a bounce pass to a streaking Forsman, who delivered an emphatic two-handed dunk that drew “oohs” from the crowd.

Liddic proved to be even more unstoppable with the ball in his hands, finishing with a game-high 27 points and 11 rebounds. He moved into 10th place on the conference’s career scoring list with 1,601 points and is 12 rebounds shy of the CC career record.

Following a Liddic layup, freshman Gabriel Mercer hit a jumper and a pair of free throws to cap the 17-2 run.

Swarthmore hit the final two shots of the half to make it 28-24 at the break, but the Mules got their lead to double digits just 2:20 into the second period and never looked back as they shot 53.8 percent after halftime to cruise to the win.

Mercer reached double figures for the third time in four games with 14 points, while Killing added 10 of his own and tied junior Matt O’Hara for the team high with five assists.

It’s the fourth time this season the Mules have won three straight games, and they will take that streak into Saturday’s home game against first-place Franklin & Marshall. The first three times they lost their next game, but the way Curry sees it, there’s no better time than now to make it four in a row.

“This is the time when you battle for the playoffs,” he said. “And pretty much all we’ve got left are teams that are also trying to get in the playoffs. So it’s going to be battle every night, and we’re going to need to keep working hard on both ends of the floor.”
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