Women's Basketball Shuts Down Shorewomen in Second Half

Saturday, January 18, 2014 - page 3

After watching Swarthmore hit one timely three-pointer after another in Thursday’s 67-61 loss, the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team was determined to make life more difficult for outside shooters when it returned home to face Washington.

Abby Stenger
Stenger scored eight points and knocked down the only two three-pointers of the game, one in each half.
The Shorewomen did not make any three-pointers, going 0-for-12 from behind the arc, as the Mules returned to their winning ways with a 66-54 victory.

Aggressively closing on shooters as the ball was passed from one side of the zone to the other, Muhlenberg held Washington to five second-half field goals in overcoming a six-point halftime deficit.

“We knew it was going to be that type of game. They always give us a tough game,” said junior Hannah Rush. “At halftime we just tried to stay focused on getting a league win. All games are important now.”

The result of this important game left the Mules (8-7, 5-4) in a tie for fourth place in the Centennial Conference at its halfway point of the league season. Junior Leanna Tallamy led a balanced scoring attack with 15 points, and senior Erin Laney added 12.

Senior Katy Mitton and junior Laura Gregory contributed six points and six rebounds apiece.

Although the Mules committed only two turnovers in the first half (and just five for the game), they found themselves down 33-27 to a Shorewomen (5-9, 4-4) squad that has never won in Allentown. But Muhlenberg stuck to its defensive game plan.

“We need to trust the zone,” said Rush, who had five points and four assists in the game. “Teams aren’t going to be able to hit three after three, and when they start missing it lets us run our transition. It’s hard to play a zone for 20-30 seconds, but mentally it comes down to us so the other team has to work harder to move the ball around.”

Muhlenberg scored twice off its defense immediately at the start of the second half, setting the tone for the rest of the game. A pair of steals by senior Colleen Caldwell led to a Tallamy layup and three-pointer by junior Abby Stenger that slashed the deficit to one two minutes into the half.

A three-point play by Tallamy – assisted by Caldwell – capped the 8-0 run and gave the Mules their first lead of the game, 35-33.

Washington was within two, at 42-40, with 11:30 left, before Muhlenberg went on a 10-1 run to open up a double-digit lead for the first time and put the game out of reach. It was part of a stretch of more than seven minutes in which the Shorewomen did not make a field goal.

And when Washington did manage to score, it was usually off a drive with the shot clock winding down. The Shoremen were down to single digits on the shot clock time and again in the second half as they struggled to find open looks.

“It’s good for us to know that we can shut down teams like that,” said Rush. “That’s going to be really big for us coming down the rest of the season.”
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