Men's Basketball Edges Ursinus on Senior Day

Saturday, February 22, 2014

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men's basketball Senior Day Brandon LaRose had quite a different introduction to his senior teammates than most college freshmen basketball players.

LaRose transferred into Muhlenberg between semesters this year and was not immediately assigned housing. So he lived with the Mule seniors until he got a room of his own.

“They helped me and my dad move all my stuff into their house, and then they helped us pack it all up again and move it into my room,” he said. “So right off the bat I knew they were great guys.”

Not only for their hospitality, but also for their leadership and prowess on the basketball court. And LaRose helped make sure the seniors’ last appearance on their home court would be a successful one.

Brandon Bovino In a tight game in which neither team led by three points in the last 17-and-a-half minutes, Muhlenberg pulled out a 67-65 win against Ursinus in its final game of the regular season. The game turned out to have no bearing on the Mules’ playoff fate; they needed a Johns Hopkins loss in order to have a chance of hosting a Centennial Conference first-round game. Hopkins won at Washington, so the Mules (16-9, 11-7) will travel to McDaniel on Wednesday.

Junior Malique Killing scored a team-high 18 points to break his own school record for points in a season (519). The four seniors all made important contributions, with Kevin Hargrove recording a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds and Brandon Bovino (left) just missing (10 points, 8 rebounds). Austin Curry (right) scored seven points, and James Albano added five points and six rebounds.

Austin Curry Ursinus (6-19, 4-14), which was winless in the CC when the two teams met a month ago, came into the finale with a three-game winning streak and pushed the Mules the entire game. Muhlenberg led by as many as eight in the first half, but the Bears tied the score at 44 six minutes into the second half.

Coming down the stretch, the game was tied again at 52, 55, 57, 59 and 61. Muhlenberg finally went ahead for good at 63-62 on a pair of free throws by Killing with 2:30 left.

The score remained that way until Bovino grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled with 54.6 seconds left. He made both free throws, and after the Bears made a jumper – their lone field goal in the final six minutes – Curry was fouled with 23.7 ticks on the clock. He made one of two to make the score 66-64.

Ursinus had a chance to tie on two free throws with 4.3 seconds left, but missed the second. Hargrove snagged the rebound – his 11th of the second half – and made one of two free throws. The Bears could manage only a desperation heave from halfcourt before the final buzzer sounded.

“This is a huge confidence booster,” said LaRose. “Obviously every win is important, and you don’t want to come off a loss into the playoffs. Hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.”

You also don’t want to lose on a special day for your teammates and one-time housemates. The four playing seniors, who with a 64-40 record are the program’s winningest class in 12 years, were recognized before the game along with senior student assistant Evan Kasakove.

“There was a certain level of excitement before the game because of the seniors, and we still felt it after the game. We’re pretty hyped,” said LaRose. “They’re such great guys, and it’ll be sad not to have them around next year.”
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