Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Thursday, December 1, 2005
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Freshman Michael Bernardini scored a career-high 19 points in his first career start, including three consecutive three-pointers late in the
Michael Bernardini
“My teammates give me confidence to shoot in the games, so I just fire it up there,” said Bernardini, who is averaging 8.0 points five games into his college career. “Tonight they went in.”
second half, to lead the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team to an 82-75 win at Moravian.

A classic battle between the two longtime rivals featured 14 lead changes, six of which came on six straight baskets in the last six minutes.

The Mules (4-1) led by one at halftime and built a 10-point bulge, 52-42, with 12 minutes to play. The Greyhounds came back, however, to tie the score at 56 with 6:49 to play.

A three-pointer a minute later gave Moravian its first lead (60-59) of the second half and set the seesaw in motion. Muhlenberg caught a bit of luck when two Greyhounds battled each other for a missed free throw and the ball bounced right to senior Jimmy O’Brien, who hit a short jumper to put the Mules back ahead, 61-60.

Moravian regained its one-point lead on a jumper, only to have Bernardini hit a three-pointer in transition with 4:10 to play for a 64-62 Muhlenberg lead at the four-minute mark.

The Greyhounds got a basket and foul at the other end to go back up, 65-64. With 3:37 left, Bernardini hit a three from the corner on an
Jeff Stewart
Stewart’s 16 rebounds tied a career high set against Franklin & Marshall as a freshman.
out-of-bounds play to put the Mules ahead, 67-65.

The defense made sure this lead would hold. After a defensive stop, Bernardini hit another three-pointer from the wing to make it 70-65. A steal by junior Christopher Strachan led to two free throws for junior Jeff Stewart. Junior Tom Scott was fouled on a defensive rebound on the next possession and made one of two from the line. A defensive rebound by Stewart led to two more Scott free throws, and Muhlenberg had its 10-point lead back at 75-65 with 1:48 to play.

The Mules iced the game by making seven free throws the rest of the way.

Key to the Muhlenberg win was its three-point shooting. The Mules, who made only one of 13 from behind the arc in Tuesday’s 66-63 loss to Haverford, beat the Moravian zone by going 11-of-23 from three-point range, with Bernardini nailing four and junior Chris Huber shaking off a shooting slump to make three threes.

“The Moravian big men did a good job inside on Jeff, but the perimeter guys made some big shots,” said Bernardini. “There are going to be games where we’ll have to carry the load.”

Despite the best efforts of the Greyhound post players, Stewart still put up big numbers, with season highs of 21 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. O’Brien also had a big night on the boards, pulling down 10 rebounds.

Scott finished with 14 points and Huber with 12, while Strachan had career highs of nine points, six assists and four steals.

The win gave Muhlenberg a 5-4 lead in the Matte Award standings for the 2005-06 year. The next Matte contest is a women’s basketball game on Feb. 2.

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Last updated December 1, 2005