Men's Basketball Topples First-Place Dickinson

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Women’s basketball

Of all the things Matt O’Hara does for the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team, scoring is not generally high on the list. The senior co-captain came into the Mules’ important home game against Dickinson leading the Centennial Conference in assists but averaging only 3.8 points per game.

“I love my job on this team,” he said. “I get to set everyone else up and help them get open shots. We have so many guys on this team who can score.

Matt O'Hara
O'Hara, whose previous career high of 11 points came last year against McDaniel, also had seven rebounds.
“But every once in a while, I like to remind the guys that I can score too,” he added.

O’Hara reminded everyone of that fact against the Red Devils, pouring in a career-high 15 points to complement a monster game by junior center Kevin Hargrove (24 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots) as Muhlenberg completed a season sweep of Dickinson with a 77-59 win.

The Red Devils (16-6, 11-4) came into the game tied for first in the CC. The win, combined with Gettysburg’s loss to Franklin & Marshall, put the Mules in sole possession of fourth place in the CC with three games left. They can clinch a playoff berth by winning one of their remaining games.

And the win was a nice bounceback for Muhlenberg coming off Saturday’s 68-46 loss at Franklin & Marshall.

Austin Curry
Curry made his first four field-goal attempts and finished with 18 points. His two three-pointers increased his career total to 154, one short of second place on the Mules’ all-time list.
“None of us felt good after the F&M game,” said O’Hara. “But we came to practice Monday and put it behind us. It’s an emotional season – you lose a game like we did and you feel bad, then you win a big game like this and you feel like you’re invincible. We’re trying to keep on an even keel.”

The Mules seized command early against the Red Devils, who entered with a season-high four-game winning streak in which they outscored their opponents by an average of almost 20 points. Although Dickinson opened the scoring with a dunk, Muhlenberg turned a 3-2 deficit into a 12-3 lead with a 10-0 run that featured back-to-back three-pointers by O’Hara and junior Austin Curry – the former off an offensive rebound and kickout pass by junior Brandon Bovino.

“I hit that first shot, and that was a big confidence booster,” O’Hara said. “The guys told me to keep shooting. I felt good so I just ran with it.”

Muhlenberg ran with it too, building an 18-point lead (31-13) late in the half on a three-point play by Bovino. The margin was 15 points at halftime as the Mules held Dickinson, which was first in the CC in scoring and second in field-goal percentage, to 31.8-percent shooting.

The lead hovered between 11 and 19 points for most of the second half until the Red Devils finally got to within single digits with just under seven minutes to play. The closest the visitors got was eight points, at 62-54 on a pair of free throws with 4:16 left, but the Mules went on another 10-0 run to put the game away.

Hargrove was front and center during the clinching run, scoring four points and grabbing four rebounds, including three consecutive on Dickinson missed shots. His 24 points tied a career high set earlier this season against Gettysburg, and his 17 rebounds topped his previous career best of 15.

“He was a monster today. They didn’t have an answer for him,” said O’Hara. “He played tough like we know he can. He’s always been big on defense, and now his offensive game is really stepping up. We’re very excited about how he’s playing.”

O’Hara put the exclamation point on the big win when, with the Mules milking the clock, his scoop shot with 7.4 seconds left resulted in a three-point play and capped his career-high night.

“Luckily we got the big win,” he said. “That’s what it was all about.”
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