Men's Basketball Finishes Strong for Comeback Win

Sunday, November 16, 2014 - page 3

The Muhlenberg men’s basketball team may only have three upperclassmen this season, but its 2-0 start to the 2014-15 campaign has already shown that this team does not lack maturity or grit.

John Hunter The Mules trailed by 10 halfway through the second half against Arcadia, but they were able to put together a 22-5 run to close out the game and defeat the Knights 88-80.

“We really trusted what we do,” said senior Malique Killing, who scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the second half. “Some teams when they are in a hole try to change what they do, but we just stuck to our game plan that we had a lot of confidence in from the start.”

The key to the second-half turnaround was limiting the fast break opportunities for the Knights (1-1). With the score tied 49-49, Arcadia quickly jumped to an eight-point lead in a span of less than two minutes. All eight points, two three-pointers and layup, came in transition. After that stretch, Arcadia saw little room to attack on the break.

“The best way to limit transition is to have good shot selection,” said junior Alec Stavetski, whose 13 first-half points gave the Mules a halftime lead. “When they did try to jump out in transition, we did a better job getting back. It was something Coach made a point of in one of his timeouts.”

After the Mules cut the lead to six with under six minutes left in the game, sophomore Brandon LaRose collected an offensive rebound and dished it to Killing, who knocked down a three. Killing then connected on another three after two free throws by Arcadia, and LaRose gave the Mules the lead for good on a fast break reverse layup on their next possession.

With the Knights firing off long jumpers down the final stretch, the Mules calmly held possession and drilled their foul shots. Killing was 9-for-10 from the line, and as a team Muhlenberg was 6-for-8 on free throws in the final two minutes to seal the victory.

Sophomore John Hunter (left) made his presence known in the second half. Hunter recorded all four of his blocks in the final 5:51 of the game, and his defense down the stretch was key to the Mules not allowing a field goal for the final 6:35.

“We stuck to our defensive morals,“ added Stavetski. “We are a close team and in crunch time we stayed together and I think it really showed in the win.”

The Mules benefitted from a well-balanced attack. Sophomore Jon Schreer continued his hot hand from the opener, going 3-for-6 from deep and scoring 12, while LaRose attacked the basket for his 11 points and made five of his seven attempts.

The win guaranteed that the Mules would be the only team of the four at the Centennial/MAC challenge to go undefeated in the season-opening tournament.
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