Teamwork Lifts Men's Basketball Past Dickinson

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Women’s basketball

In its last game before final exams, the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team faced a tough test against defending Centennial Conference runner-up Dickinson.

But the Mules treated it more like a group project, as they dished out a season-high 21 assists on 28 buckets and had six players score at least eight points en route to an 84-65 win over the Red Devils.

The Mules’ 84 points were 15 more than Dickinson (4-4, 2-2) had given up in any

AJ Dean
Dean's three-pointer with the shot clock running gave the Mules a 3-1 lead, which they never gave up.
game this season. They shot 52.8 percent from the field against a Red Devil defense that entered the game holding opponents to just 37.7 percent.

According to junior Matt O’Hara, the win also helped the Mules (7-2, 2-2) exact some revenge from last season when the Red Devils delivered a harsh blow to their playoff chances by winning in overtime in Memorial Hall.

“They swept us last year, so we really wanted this game,” he said. “The younger guys weren’t here, so they didn’t really experience it, but us older players told them about it and it definitely was a motivator. They’re a really good team, so we knew we would have to play at a high level to win, and I think we did that tonight.”

Thanks to some hot shooting, Muhlenberg (7-2, 2-2) burst out of the gate, hitting six of its first eight shots,

Matt O'Hara
The eight points for O'Hara were one short of his career high.
including three from beyond the arc, to open up a nine-point lead a little more than five minutes in. But Dickinson did not let the Mules pull much further away, and Muhlenberg went into the locker room with a 44-33 lead.

The Mules kept the Devils at an arm’s length at the start of the second half, and then slowly started to pull away beginning at the 16:56 mark.

Muhlenberg used a 20-9 run over the next nine minutes to put the game away. O’Hara knocked down a three from the wing to stretch the lead to 15 at the 12:42 mark.

Then freshman Gabriel Mercer added back-to-back fastbreak layups, including one where he sliced through a pair of defenders and went up and under off the glass.

Finally, Mercer’ s classmate, Malique Killing, capped the run when he took a feed from sophomore Austin Curry on the fast break and drained a three right in front of the Mule bench to make it 69-50 with 7:27 to play.

But while the Mules drained 11 threes and executed well offensively, O’Hara said the real difference was on the other end of the floor, where they forced 22 turnovers, including seven during the 20-9 run.

“Pretty much the only thing we talked about coming into this game was defense,” O’Hara saidq. “We gave up 96 to Washington on our home floor, and we just can’t do that. So to go from 96 to 64 showed how much better we can play on defense.”

Killing finished with 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc and added four assists. Freshman AJ Dean handed out a team-high six helpers to go along with 11 points, and Mercer added 10 points.

Senior Spencer Liddic led the team with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Curry (nine points, three assists) and O’ Hara (eight points, three assists) gave the Mules four players with at least three assists.

The win moved the Mules to .500 in conference play in its final CC game until January, and according to O’Hara, nothing helps him study better than a big win on the court.

“We got sick of losing and knew we couldn’t do it individually, and I think that really showed in the assists and team defense,” he said. “We played really well tonight, and we just need to keep this same level of intensity for every game. Now we get a little break, and it definitely feels a lot better going into finals a win.”
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