Women's Basketball Doubles Pleasure to Outlast F&M in Semifinal

Friday, February 24, 2012 - page 2

Junior Alita Zabrecky of the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team has been known to chew gum during games. And when she does, she sometimes grabs Doublemint.

During the Mules’ Centennial Conference semifinal game against Franklin & Marshall, she and teammate Alexandra Chili would have been perfect spokespersons for the brand as they each doubled their pleasure and their fun by recording double-doubles to help Muhlenberg grab a 51-47 win.

The victory moves the Mules on to their fifth straight

Alexandra Chili
Chili is averaging 18.3 points and 10.3 rebounds over the last four games.
conference championship game. Sticking with the double theme, for the second straight year, Muhlenberg, in search of its record seventh conference crown, will face Johns Hopkins on its home court. The Blue Jays beat Haverford, 55-47, in the first semifinal.

“They’re a great team, so we knew this was going to be a tough game,” said Zabrecky, who scored a game-high 21 points and added 10 boards. “We really wanted to get them back after their beat us at home, but it wasn’t easy. This definitely felt like a playoff game, and it was a great win for us.”

Neither team shot better than 31.1 percent from the field, meaning rebounding was at a premium. In addition to Chili and Zabrecky, sophomore Erin Laney also reached double digits for the first time ever, grabbing a career-high 12 boards to give the Mules three double-figure rebounders for the first time since 2009.

After a slow start, Muhlenberg used a late 11-0 run to take a 32-21 lead into halftime. F&M, however, did not appear fazed, pulling within two possessions a little more than five minutes out of the break.

The Diplomats eventually got as close as three at the 6:31 mark, but the Mules held them to just one field goal until their final possession to close out the game.

Laney was fouled grabbing an offensive rebound and sank both

Erin Laney
Laney's previous high in rebounds was eight against both Albright and Haverford this year.
free throws to make it 46-41 with 5:26 left. Two minutes later, senior Kathleen Naddaff converted a strong layup to make it a seven-point game. She added seven rebounds to help the Mules hold a 54-48 edge on the glass.

After one Diplomat free throw, Chili drilled a three from the top of the arc to stretch the lead to nine with 2:25 left, which proved to be more than enough.

“We obviously have a lot of playoff experience, and I think that helped us a lot,” Zabrecky said. “So when they started to come back, we didn’t let it get to us. We stayed calm and knew if we kept running our stuff that we’d be fine.”

Chili finished with 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and 11 rebounds. With 1,938 career points, she is just 27 shy of the CC career record. She also moved into ninth place in Division III history with 325 career threes to help the Class of 2012 pick up its 91st win, which ranks second in program history.

Junior Kate Clawson scored all eight of her points during the first half, and sophomore Colleen Caldwell led all players with five assists.

The win gives the Mules a chance to avenge a pair of regular-season losses to Johns Hopkins, just like they did last year. And Zabrecky said that is definitely on the mind of every player that was a part of last year’s postseason run.

But more than the satisfaction of redemption, she said Muhlenberg is even more concerned with the prize that comes with the title. And she wasn’t talking about the trophy.

“We really want to get them back after the way they beat us this year,” she said. “Nothing feels better than cutting down the nets on another team’s court. It would also put us in the NCAA Tournament, which was one of our goals from the beginning of the season.

“We know we’re going to have to step our game up, but we are more than ready for another shot at them.”
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.