Strong Second Half Pushes Women's Basketball Past Red Devils

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Erin Laney
Sophomore Erin Laney scored all six of her points during a five-minute stretch of the second half, including four in 15 seconds thanks to a jumper, steal and fastbreak layup.
After a sluggish opening 10 minutes at Dickinson, the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team was in search of a spark.

Actually, make that a Rush.

Freshman point guard Hannah Rush helped the Mules go on a pair of big runs, one in each half, to turn a first-half deficit into an easy 76-42 win. The victory keeps Muhlenberg (16-5, 11-5) tied with Ursinus for third place in the Centennial Conference.

After the Mules hit just four of their first 16 shots, Rush entered the game for the first time with 8:33 to play in the opening half. Muhlenberg proceeded to shoot 40 percent during the rest of the half, fueling a 21-6 run that turned a six-point deficit into a nine-point halftime lead.

Junior Alita Zabrecky opened the stretch with 10 straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, followed by a three from senior Alexandra Chili and a jumper by sophomore Katy Mitton.

Finally, Rush, who hit just one three in her first 13 games, closed the run with back-to-back treys as the Mules took a 34-25 lead into the break.

Mitton and Rush, who entered the game together, combined for seven rebounds to help give the Mules a 13-5 edge on the glass during that stretch after being outrebounded by four during the opening 11 minutes. They also added three steals, which Rush said was part of their focus.

“We wanted to try to get some turnovers so we could get going in transition,” she said. “I like to use my speed to get into the open court, and I think when we started getting some steals, it helped our offense get going.

Erin Laney
Sophomore Leeann Lanza finished with five points, five rebounds and two assists.

“I’ve never really been much of a 3-point shooter, but coach told me to take some shots if I’m open so the defense can’t just concentrate on our shooters. I got some good looks tonight, and they went in.”

The two teams traded baskets for the first five minutes of the second half before the Mules took over.

They held the Devils (2-20, 2-15) to just two field goals during the final 15:32, outscoring them 35 to 8 to close out the game.

Zabrecky scored eight more points in the second half to finish with a game-high 20, and the Mules upped their lead to 20 with 11:12 to play and cruised the rest of the way.

Chili finished with 15 points, and Rush poured in a career-high 12 to give the Mules three double-figure scorers for the first time in six games.

For Rush, who missed seven games this season because of illness, it was more than just a bounce-back win. She said it was a huge confidence boost, adding she is finally starting to feel like herself on the court, just in time for the closing stretch of the regular season.

“It was pretty frustrating not being able to play,” she said. “And then it took me a while to get back into a rhythm. But I feel a lot more comfortable now.

“The seniors made it very clear that we need to pick our game up, or our season will be over before we want it to be,” she said. “So it was good that we were able to play well as a team and get the win.”
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