Men's Basketball Battles Back to Topple Ursinus

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Women’s basketball

Fans at Helfferich Hall may have been calling him a “salty peanut” and “5-foot-4” all night, but at the end of the game it was Malique Killing who was standing sweet and tall.

Killing scored 28 points, six on pressure free throws in the last 22.6 seconds, as the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team came back from a 16-point deficit to pull out a thrilling 75-73 win at Ursinus.

The win was the third in a row for the Mules (11-7, 7-4), who remained in a tie for third place in the Centennial Conference with Johns Hopkins – their opponent at home on Saturday.

Malique Killing
Killing’s 14-for-14 night at the line wasn’t his best as a Mule - he was a school-record 20-for-20 vs. Valley Forge Christian last year.
Junior Brandon Bovino recorded his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 17 rebounds. It was his second 17-rebound game in the last eight days, and his final board clinched the win. Junior Austin Curry added 10 points, going a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range.

Fueled by the vociferous crowd, Ursinus (7-11, 5-6) came out on fire, making six of its first 10 three-pointers to open up a 34-18 lead late in the first half. In addition to the hot shooting, Muhlenberg was plagued by foul trouble to three of its starters. Killing ended the first half with three fouls, and Curry and junior Kevin Hargrove were whistled for two apiece.

“I kind of feed into it a little more than I should, and that’s why I struggled at the start,” said Kililng of the heckling. “I got too amped up, and that hurt me in the first half.”

With the starters’ playing time limited, other players came off the bench late in the half to get the Mules back in the game. With freshmen Nick Melosky (six points) and Alec Stavetski (five) and senior Hunter Forsman (two) combining for 13 of the points, Muhlenberg closed the half on a 15-3 run to cut the margin to four, 39-35, at the break.

After Hargrove blocked a shot early in the second half to tie the program’s career record of 165, Curry hit a three to bring the Mules within one, but Ursinus re-established a double-digit lead at 58-47 with 11:43 left. Muhlenberg responded by picking up its defense, holding the Bears to two field goals over a span of more than nine minutes.

Alec Stavetski
Stavetski finished with eight points.
The Mules finally regained the lead – their first since 6-5 – when Kililng stole the ball, dribbled the length of the court and made a floater between two defenders to make it 63-62 with 4:35 to play.

It was 64-64 with less than two minutes to play when Stavetski was fouled while spinning through the lane. He made both ends of a one-and-one to give Muhlenberg the lead for good.

After a defensive stop, the Mules ran the shot clock down and Killing missed a runner. But he got his own rebound and banked in a shot for a 68-64 lead with 46.6 ticks left.

That set the stage for a heart-stopping finale. Three times in the last 23.7 seconds, Ursinus made a basket or two free throws to cut Muhlenberg’s lead to one. Each time they fouled Killing on the inbounds pass, and the 87-percent free-throw shooter calmly converted each shot.

“I credit a lot of it to our coaches. At the end of all our practices, it’s mandatory to make 10 straight free throws,” Killing explained. “Obviously it’s big to go 14-for-14 in a game, but I’m doing that six days a week just to go home!

“It’s really trusting your system and controlling your breathing,” he added. “My nerves don’t really bother me as much as the rhythm of my breathing.”

Killing’s last two free throws made it 75-72 with 6.9 seconds left, and Muhlenberg fouled with 2.1 seconds to play. The Bear player made the first free throw and missed the second intentionally, but Bovino soared to grab the rebound in a crowd, and the time expired before Ursinus could foul him.

The win followed a similar pattern to last year’s meeting at Muhlenberg, when the Bears came back from a big deficit to win by two.

“Our toughness is what prevailed tonight,” said Killing. “Those 16 points [down] could’ve easily turned into 30, especially with our starters in foul trouble. The resilience of this team is incredible.”
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.