Women's Basketball Holds Off F&M, Moves into Tie for First

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Men’s basketball

Eighteen has been the magic number at halftime for the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team. After allowing only 18 first-half points for the third game in a row, the Mules went on to defeat Franklin & Marshall, 53-43, for their seventh win in eight games.

Kate Clawson
Clawson also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
The victory, combined with Swarthmore’s home loss to Johns Hopkins, put Muhlenberg (9-3, 6-1) into a first-place tie with Haverford in the Centennial Conference.

After the Mules held the Diplomats (4-8, 1-6) to just two points over a span of nearly 11 minutes in the first half and 22.6-percent shooting, the second 20 minutes of basketball had a completely different vibe.

Due largely to offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities, Franklin & Marshall cut the Mules’ 12-point halftime lead to just two with 11:28 to play.

Senior Kate Clawson hit a three-pointer on the next play to put Muhlenberg back up by five, but the Diplomats responded with a jumper of their own to cut it back to three. The Mules were able to keep the lead over five points for the remainder of the game due to nearly perfect free-throw shooting – they were 10-12 from the line during the last nine minutes.

Nicole Pepe
Sophomore Nicole Pepe assisted on Clawson's three-pointer that gave Muhlenberg the lead for good at 12-10, snapped a 9-1 F&M run with a second-half jumper and made two free throws in the final four minutes to help the Mules keep the Diplomats at bay.
“They really kept their momentum up and they were grabbing loose balls and offensive rebounds,” said Clawson of Franklin & Marshall’s second-half play. “We just had to come down on offense and really take our time and be smart by running 30 seconds off the clock. Even if we ended up missing shots, we still ran minutes off the clock.”

Clawson finished with 12 points on perfect shooting from behind the arc (2-for-2) and the free-throw line (4-for-4).

Coming off the bench in the first half, she had five points in 34 seconds to give the Mules the lead and spark a 21-2 run that put them up by 16, their largest lead of the game, with 3:35 until halftime.

“I don’t think of myself as one type of player,” Clawson said of her role as a sparkplug. “It’s nice to be that spark though because it gives the team confidence that carries through the rest of the game, and it’s always good to have that during the game.”

During their first-half run, Clawson also had lefty layup on a highlight-reel worthy hook pass from junior Colleen Caldwell as she cut through the lane.

“Coming into this game, we knew that F&M has lost games by only a couple of points and in overtime, so we knew we had to be as aggressive as they were,” stated Clawson. “We knew we had to go get rebounds and be tenacious on defense.”

The defensive effort was led by senior Alita Zabrecky, who had a career-high six steals. She also added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Classmate Julie Kelly had nine points, including a three with 53.6 seconds remaining to give the Mules a 10-point lead that iced the win. Junior Leeann Lanza added eight points to go along with six rebounds. Muhlenberg held the Diplomats to 26.7-percent shooting for the game and allowed just five assists. In all nine of their victories this season, the Mules have allowed fewer than 50 points.

“At this point in the season, being confident in ourselves and playing great defense against teams is our main focus,” added Clawson. “If they can’t score more than 40 to 45, we know we’re going to score 50 to 55, and that’s all we need to do at this point.”
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