Preview: Men's Basketball Tips Off Against Gettysburg in CC Playoffs

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Track & field championship preview

Although the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team didn’t get the help it needed on Senior Day to grab a first-round Centennial Conference playoff bye, the three members of the class of 2013 will get to play one more game on their home court in Memorial Hall.

The Mules (16-9, 12-6), who have compiled a 6-3 conference record at home, will face fifth-seeded Gettysburg (12-13, 8-10) tomorrow night in the first round of the CC playoffs. Muhlenberg is 0-2 against the Bullets, who are 4-5 on the road in conference play, this season.

Malique Killing
Sophomore Malique Killing closed out the season leading the conference in scoring, with an average of 19.5 points per game. He is also fourth in the CC in free throw percentage at .819 and is third in steals per game at 1.9.
“They have a great offensive system and they are well-coached,” said senior co-captain Matt O’Hara. “They run their offense, use the whole shot clock, take care of the ball and work for great shots. They’re not going to beat themselves – we have to really take it to them.”

The first contest was a 66-52 loss for the Mules in their first CC matchup of the season. The most recent game between the teams was in January and ended with an 84-78 Muhlenberg loss in overtime.

Although the Mules had a six-point lead at the half and led by as many as 10 after the break, Gettysburg narrowed the gap and the final seven minutes were a one-possession game. Muhlenberg was called for a foul with half-a-second remaining and the Bullets knocked down two free throws to force overtime.

In the extra period, Gettysburg outscored Muhlenberg 10-4 to get the win.

“The first time we played Gettysburg, we were a completely different team,” stated O’Hara, who is ranked third in the CC with 3.9 assists per game. “As the season went on, we found a different identity and really strengthened our defense.

“The second game was an overtime loss and we just didn’t play our best game. We made some mistakes on defense that we wouldn’t normally make and didn’t play as smart as we could have,” he added.

Austin Curry
Junior Austin Curry is second in the league in made three-pointers with 52 and in three-point shooting percentage with a .437 clip.
Last year, Muhlenberg fell to Franklin & Marshall in the conference championship game. Gettysburg, which has not won a playoff game since 2010, is in the midst of a four-game losing streak, including a 25-point loss to McDaniel at home last Saturday.

The Mules’ 12 conference wins this season are the most since they joined the CC in 1994. The last time they had at least 12 conference wins was over 40 years ago, when they were members of the MAC South.

A win against Gettysburg would extend their winning streak to five and put the Mules in a semifinal matchup against top-seeded Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster on Friday. The Diplomats, like the Bullets, are responsible for two of Muhlenberg’s six CC losses this year.

The other two teams in the five-team field are Dickinson and Johns Hopkins. The Red Devils, who Muhlenberg beat twice this year, have the second seed, and the Blue Jays, who swept their series against the Mules, have the third seed.

“I think we have really come together as a team throughout the course of the season,” said O’Hara. “We have a high level of chemistry and we love playing with each other. We have also cemented ourselves as a great defensive team.

“We have won eight of our last 10 games and that’s really where you want to be when you come into the playoffs. We are playing with confidence, we are healthy and we are really excited to show what we can do this week.”