23 points. 23 points stood between the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team and their opponent Swarthmore College two days prior. On Jan. 28 the Mules entered their game against the Gettysburg Bullets with this turnover-ridden, sour taste in their mouth. This taste was quickly replaced with blood.
In the first two minutes, the Mules rolled over the Bullets’ big men going on an unanswered nine-point scoring run. As the Bullets tried to get back up on their feet, the Mules continued to attack the paint from a multitude of angels. Six different players scored the first 24 points. If there was a weak link, it could not be found.
Eleven minutes in, the Bullets were praying for Paul Revere, because a man from Manchester was putting on a workshop in fundamentals. Luke Gordos ‘25 had gone 4-4 from the paint and 2-2 from the strike.
On top of this offensive performance, the Muhlenberg defense was pushing the Bullets off the perimeter and into the paint, where their starting center Ryan McKeon futilely attempted to go up with it against Brandon Goldberg ‘24. By the end of the half McKeon, who has shot 50% this season, had made only one of his four shots.
After going down 17 points, the Bullets held their heads high. Second in command Jordan Stafford dragged his team back to a six-point deficit by the end of the half. Impressively, he kept his team in the game with 10 points, 2 steals and 1 block.
In the first two possessions of the half, the Mule’s came out hot. Tommy McGuire ‘25 packed the aforementioned Stafford. Then Dan Gaines ‘22 converted defense to offense with a dagger of a three. It appeared that packed stands might be in for another half of elite Muhlenberg basketball.
However, in the thirteenth minute, the Mules faced an onslaught of Bullet threes and the same messy turnovers that had plagued them in their game against Swarthmore. By the tenth minute, the lead which had once stood at seventeen points had dwindled to a meager free throw of a difference.
Now, what goes through a player’s head cannot be explained and it is hazardous to guess, but when that scoreboard hit 49-48 something clicked in Gaines, Giovanni Rubino ‘24 and Goldberg who led the team on a 10-0 five-minute run. From there the lead fluctuated but the Mules never lost control, causing two Gettysburg turnovers in a row. Eventually, the Mules won 72-62 with four players in the double-digits and nineteen points coming off the bench.