Men's Basketball Wins Playoff Game on Last-Second Shot

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
 

Men’s lacrosse

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a time for survival ... it was a time for Killing.

In a men’s basketball playoff game that played out like a “Tale of Two Halves,” Muhlenberg came back from a 17-point halftime deficit to defeat Gettysburg, 45-43, on a jumper from the top of the key by sophomore Malique Killing with seven-tenths of a second remaining. Click here for video of the winning shot.

Kevin Hargrove
Hargrove scored 12 of the Mules' first 23 points.
With the thrilling win, the Mules (17-9) advance to the Centennial Conference semifinals for the fourth time in five years. They will face host and top seed Franklin & Marshall on Friday night for the right to play in the championship game.

“I give most of the credit to the 15 guys on the team – players, coaches. Sometimes they have more confidence in me than I have in myself,” said Killing, who scored Muhlenberg’s last nine points of the game. “They told me at the beginning of the second half that it was my time to take the game over. Obviously I took the shot but my teammates give me the confidence.”

At the beginning of the second half, Killing had a grand total of one point, and the Mules had only 14 following a first 20 minutes in which they shot just 20.7 percent from the field.

“In the beginning we were a little antsy,” said Killing. “We rushed our offense and rushed a lot of shots, and that contributed to their big lead.

“In the second half we wanted to relax and keep going down low. Then we started to make some shots, and that sparked our defense. We have the number one defense in the conference [by defensive field-goal percentage]. That’s what we hang our hats on, and that’s what chipped away at the lead.”

The chipping hit a snag midway through the second half, and the Mules still trailed by 13, at 40-27 with 9:42 left, after the Bullets (12-14) made baskets on back-to-back possessions. That’s when the defense really dug in, allowing only one field goal – on an off-balance shot – and forcing two shot-clock violations the rest of the way.

Matt O'Hara
O'Hara hit a three-pointer in the first half and added four rebounds, two assists and two steals. The two assists gave him an even 100 for the season, making him the first Mule to reach the century mark in 15 years.
A three-pointer from the wing by junior Austin Curry got Muhlenberg to within four, 40-36, with 4:19 left. After a Gettysburg field goal, Killing made two free throws, then hit a pullup jumper with 1:22 left to make it 42-40.

Defensive pressure from Curry contributed to a Bullet turnover as the clock ticked under a minute. The Mules missed two shots on their ensuing possession, but senior Matt O’Hara came out of a pile with the rebound and kicked it out to Killing, who drove the lane for a three-point play that gave Muhlenberg its first lead of the game with 36.1 seconds left.

With 18.4 showing on the clock, Bullet Sango Amolo, whose two free throws with five-tenths of a second left tied the score in Gettysburg’s overtime win against the Mules in January, was fouled on a drive to the basket. This time he missed the first and made the second, leaving the score tied.

There was little doubt whose hands the ball would be in for the final possession. Killing drove in from the right wing to the center of the court, froze his defender with a look to Curry on his left and took a smooth shot that barely moved the net on its way through.

All that remained was for junior Kevin Hargrove, who battled through double- and triple-teams to record a double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds) to bat away the Gettysburg inbounds pass, and Muhlenberg had its fifth straight win. The 88 points were the fewest ever in a CC playoff game, and the 45 points were the fewest scored by the Mules in a win since the 1981-82 season – before the advent of the shot clock.

But that hardly mattered in a season when the object is to “survive and advance.” With only one day to practice, Muhlenberg will now turn its attention to three-time defending CC champion Franklin & Marshall.

“We enjoyed this win. It was very emotional, but now we have to turn the page,” said Killing, whose 16 points raised his season total to 504 – five short of the school record. “F&M will come out confident and tough just like Gettysburg did, and we have to be ready for them.”
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.