Muhlenberg Outduels Hopkins for Centennial Conference Title
Feb. 27, 2011
BALTIMORE, MD - Second-seeded Muhlenberg outscored top-seeded Johns Hopkins 39-27 in the second half en route to a 72-61 victory in the Centennial Conference championship game on Sunday afternoon in Goldfarb Gym. The Blue Jays drop to 21-5 with the loss, while the Mules improve to 21-5 and earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The win marks the conference-leading sixth Centennial crown for Muhlenberg.
The first half was a seesaw battle between the two sides that saw an incredible nine ties and 13 lead changes. Hopkins took a slight 34-33 edge into the intermission after sophomore KaraLea Follmer drained a jumper with under 30 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Freshman Leeann Lanza gave the Mules back the lead with a layup to start the second stanza, before Hopkins junior Chantel Mattiola matched her with a layup of her own on the other end to give the Blue Jays a 36-35 lead.
JHU maintained a narrow 38-37 advantage at the 16:10 mark, before Muhlenberg put together a crucial 10-0 run over the next three minutes to take the lead for good.
The Mules scored on four straight possessions to take the nine-point advantage with 13:30 remaining. Senior Kelly McKeon drained two free throws and junior Alexandra Chili connected on a three-pointer from the right wing to push the lead to four, before McKeon converted on an off-balance, fast-break layup to force a Blue Jay timeout with 14:23 on the clock.
The Blue Jays were unable to connect on their next offensive possession and the Mules made them pay as sophomore Alita Zabrecky drilled a jumper from beyond the arc off a McKeon feed to push the Muhlenberg lead to 47-38.
For the third time this season Hopkins found itself trailing the Mules with under 10 minutes to play in the contest. The Blue Jays mounted impressive comeback wins in both prior meetings with Muhlenberg this season, but were unable to make the third time a charm as the Mules found the bottom of the net in seemingly every crucial situation and closed the game out with strong free throw shooting in the final minutes.
Hopkins twice cut the Mules' advantage to four down the stretch, but the visitors answered each time with baskets on the other end to thwart any Blue Jay comeback attempt.
Mattiola led JHU in the scoring column with 17 points, while senior Lyndsay Burton totaled 15 points and nine boards in the loss. Follmer played well in just her second start of the season with eight points and eight rebounds and freshman Fatu Conteh added nine points and four boards for Hopkins.
Senior Sheila Cook capped off an impressive weekend with a game-high 21 points to lead the Mules in scoring for the second straight day. McKeon notched 15 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, while Chili added 17 points in the win.
Hopkins must now wait until the NCAA Division III Tournament Selection Show on Monday, February 28 at 3 pm to determine its postseason fate. The selection show can be watched live by clicking the link below.