Mules, Jays Fall in NCAAs
Erin Laney, Muhlenberg; Chantel Mattiola, Johns Hopkins
With 1:30 left in an NCAA Tournament second-round game at Mount Union and the score tied, Alita Zabrecky missed a jumper, and the ball got stuck between the rim and the backboard. It was somewhat symbolic of the air going out of the ball for the Muhlenberg women's basketball team.
The Mules gave the sixth-ranked Purple Raiders all they could handle, leading for almost the entire game, but ran out of gas at the end and lost, 61-55, to finish their season with a record of 23-6.
The game also marked the end of the career of senior Alexandra Chili, who made some more history in her final game by scoring 18 points to push her career total to 2,002. She is the first basketball player – male or female – in Centennial Conference history to score 2,000 points.
Five points each from Zabrecky and senior Kathleen Naddaff, combined with a Chili three-pointer, gave Muhlenberg a 13-0 lead nearly five minutes into the game. With the Mules playing good defense against the 10th-highest scoring team in Division III and rebounding strongly, Mount Union was unable to set up its press.
Muhlenberg led by 15 on five separate occasions in the first half, the last at 30-15. It was the biggest deficit faced all year by the 28-1 Purple Raiders, who have winning streaks of 22 games overall and 25 games at home.
The Mules led 33-23 at the half and appeared to weather a Mount Union storm to start the second. Back-to-back threes by Chili both answered Purple Raider baskets that had cut the margin to seven. It was 41-34 five minutes into the half when Chili drove to her left, pulled up and hit a short baseline jumper for points 1,999 and 2,000.
Consecutive made baskets by sophomore Erin Laney increased the lead to 51-37 with 12:30 left, but Muhlenberg went dry from there, making only two field goals the rest of the game as the Raiders ramped up their defensive pressure.
Mount Union went on a 16-2 run to finally tie the game at 53-all with 5:49 left. Naddaff's lefty hook with 4:51 on the clock put the Mules ahead 55-53, but the Purple Raiders tied it at the 3:12 mark.
The score remained tied until 61 seconds remained, when a Mount Union player put back her own missed free throw to give the Raiders their first lead, at 57-55. They added four free throws in the last 32.1 seconds to put the game away.
In addition to her 18 points, Chili tied her career high with 15 rebounds. Zabrecky also recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards. Naddaff scored 11 in her last game.
The Johns Hopkins women's basketball team battle to the very last second but fell to hosts Tufts in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, Saturday afternoon. The Blue Jays outscored the Jumbos 27-26 in the second half, but suffered a 55-46 loss to end their season.
With 11:13 to go in the second half, the Blue Jays capped a 12-4 run to open the second frame and tie the game at 33 after being down 29-19 going into the break. Freshman Haley Bush took a pass from senior Stephanie Fong and laid it in to knot the game for the third time.
With 7:50 showing, freshman Jessica Brown drained a three to pull the Blue Jays with three, 40-37, but that would prove to be as close as the Jays would get for the rest of the contest. Though the Jumbos' lead grew, the Blue Jays never stopped fighting and forced Tufts to take 15 free throws in the final 7:32.
Fong hit a jumper with 1:14 to go to get the Jays within four, 50-46, before the Jumbos closed out the game with five free throws to give the hosts a 55-46 victory.
Fong ended the game with a team-high 14 points and handed out two assists while pulling down two rebounds. Fong was 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. Senior Chantel Mattiola chipped in 13 points including a triple and she went 3-for-4 from the three point line. Junior Alex Vassila pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, including seven defensive boards.
The Blue Jays won the battle off the glass, outrebounding the Jumbos 32-28 while keeping Tufts to a 33.3% clip from the field (16-for-48). Hopkins shot 37.5 percent from the floor (15-for-40).
Hopkins ended the season, holding opponents to 49.5 points per game, the lowest scoring defense ever posted but a Hopkins' team. The Blue Jays ended their season 24-5.