Men's Basketball Beats Another First-Place Team

Saturday, February 1, 2014 - page 2

Two of the top defenses in Division III sprung a ’lique this week.

Junior Malique Killing continued his scoring surge with 27 points, breaking a Centennial Conference record as the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team pulled away from McDaniel, 68-54, for its second win against a first-place team in five days.

On Tuesday, Killing poured in 35 points and the Mules (13-6, 8-4) shot 62.5 percent in the second half for a 75-72 win against a Dickinson squad that entered the week fourth in Division III in field-goal percentage defense. The Green Terror (14-5, 9-3), which had its eight-game CC winning streak snapped, came in ranked ninth in the country in scoring defense and held Muhlenberg to a season-low 50 points in the first meeting this season.

Although he came up short in his bid for a fourth straight 30-point game, the 27 points gave Killing 1,428 for his career, breaking the CC mark of 1,426 in the freshman, sophomore and junior years.

James Albano
Albano finished with seven points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal.
As he did in the Dickinson game, Killing did a majority of his scoring in the second half, patiently waiting for opportunities and getting his teammates involved. In fact, against McDaniel, Killing had two assists before attempting his first shot midway through the first half.

One of those assists came three minutes into the game, when he drove into the lane and kicked the ball out to the corner for a three-pointer by senior Austin Curry.

“We’ve been working on taking shots later in the possession, which is good for a couple of reasons,” said Curry, who finished with 10 points. “First, When everyone touches the ball it puts more pressure on the defense because they have to guard everyone, and when everyone is involved it gives us more energy on defense. And when Malique has the ball at the start of a possession, all five guys on the other team are looking at him, but after a few reversals maybe only one or two are. Plus the other team gets tired playing defense for the whole shot clock.”

Curry’s three was part of an 8-3 start for Muhlenberg, but McDaniel came back and took its biggest lead of the game, 31-23, with 3:33 left in the half. The Mules tied the score with an 8-0 run before the Green Terror made two free throws with a second left to take a 33-31 lead into the locker room.

“We were a little upset about how we played in the first half, but at the same time we felt lucky to be only down two,” said Curry. “They had seven offensive rebounds and were beating us to loose balls. We knew that as long as we improved our effort we’d be all right.”

The teams went back and forth at the start of the second half before the Mules broke a 44-all tie with an 11-0 run. Killing began it in transition off a long pass from sophomore Alec Stavetski and later added a three-pointer. Senior James Albano scored the final five points of the run, three from the corner after Killing coolly whipped a pass to him from the lane.

The Green Terror, which had not lost by more than 12 points since the first game of the season, never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.

Muhlenberg shot 55.8 percent from the field and was over 60 for much of the game. Killing was 10-for-13 from the field before missing a pair of three-pointers late in the game; he has shot 57.5 percent while scoring 133 points in the last four games.

More importantly, Muhlenberg has solidified its playoff hopes with three wins in the four games. The Mules are tied for fourth place with Johns Hopkins, two games behind first-place Dickinson in what is shaping up as a six-team race for the five playoff spots.

“We’ve had our ups and downs this season, but beating two first-place teams shows that we’re no the right path,” said Curry. “Hopefully in the next six games we stay on that path.”
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.