Zabrecky, Point Guards Lead Women's Basketball to Big Win

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Although you won’t find her name among the league leaders, the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team has one of the best point guards in the Centennial Conference in Hanleen Caldrush.

Nicole Pepe
Pepe, who scored 14 points in Saturday's overtime win at Franklin & Marahall, made it consecutive games in double figures for the first time in her career.
Caldrush (or Collnah Rushwell, if you prefer) displayed all of “her” talents against Dickinson, recording 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds to support a spectacular all-around performance by senior Alita Zabrecky as the Mules breezed to an 82-52 win against a team they lost to by 13 points three weeks ago.

The victory solidified the playoff hopes for Muhlenberg (13-8, 10-6) as the season enters its final two weeks. The Mules are tied in the loss column with Haverford and Johns Hopkins (both 11-6) for the final three playoff spots, two games ahead of Washington, who they swept, and three on top of Dickinson with four games to play in the regular season.

Caldrush/Rushwell is the point guard platoon of junior Colleen Caldwell and sophomore Hannah Rush, who alternate starting games and are on the court together only in special end-of-game situations. Combined, they are averaging more than six assists per game, which would rank in the top 10 in Division III if they were one person.

Colleen Caldwell
Caldwell had five assists in the game, bringing her season total to 55. She, Rush (76) and Zabrecky (54) are the only trio of teammates in the CC with 50 assists each.
Both contributed to an early decisive run against the Red Devils (12-9, 8-9).

Rush, who entered the game sixth in Division III in assist-to-turnover ratio, got the start in this one but went to the bench in favor of Caldwell after uncharacteristically committing two turnovers in the first three minutes. With the Mules trailing 4-0 and having missed their first five shots, Caldwell found senior Kate Clawson for a three-pointer on an inbounds play, kicking off a 20-0 blitz.

Muhlenberg made eight straight field goals in the run, including four by Zabrecky, who finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, three steals, two assists and a blocked shot.

Rush closed out the run by making three free throws after getting fouled on a shot attempt from the corner, giving the Mules a 20-4 lead eight minutes into the game.

“They’re both great players, and they bring different things to the floor,” said sophomore Nicole Pepe, who scored 12 points, of the point guard tag team. “Hannah pushes the ball a little more, and Colleen gets us in our sets. Everything they do is good, so adjusting isn’t a problem because they make it easy for us.”

Dickinson chipped away at the 16-point lead and trailed by only seven at halftime. The margin was five, 32-27, before Zabrecky drove in for a layup to start a 10-0 run that extended the lead back to double digits, where it stayed the rest of the game. Caldwell ended the run with a three-pointer off a kickout pass from the post by junior Leeann Lanza.

Zabrecky put on a show in the second half, scoring 16 of her 24 points. She made one layup after blocking a shot and driving the length of the floor, another after hustling after a loose ball and driving in, and a third on a steal and fullcourt layup.

The Mules allowed only six field goals, shot 57 percent and scored 50 points in the second half, which also featured layups off drives from both point guards – Rush on the left side and Caldwell on the right side.

Clawson finished with eight points and seven rebounds, and junior Leanna Tallamy added nine points in only five minutes for Muhlenberg, which has rebounded from back-to-back losses to post back-to-back wins as it looks to peak at the right time.

“We were a whole different team tonight,” said Pepe. “We were playing together, running our sets, and doing the things that work for us.

“This is a very good time for us to get our stuff together. I know that we’re capable of playing like this every single game.”
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.