On Saturday Jan. 28 the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team played in the first of two games in Memorial Hall, with the men’s team playing later. Their opponent was the Gettysburg Bullets, a team that sits in the top of the Centennial Conference and is well known for their defensive showcase in last year’s Centennial Conference Championship against the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays. From the tip off, this was an opportunity for the Mules to demonstrate their championship potential.
In the Mules past few away games they have struggled with shaking off the post-bus-ride fatigue, often going blow-for-blow in the final quarters in an effort to regain footing. The Bullets wished this was the case. The Mules went two-for-two in their first possessions of the game, imposing their strength both on the perimeter and in the box.
At the end of the first quarter, Emily Vaughn ‘25 had led the team to an eight point lead, with six points and two assists. As her number two, Abigail Scheidel ‘24 worked with Vaughn to steal the ball from the Bullets twice in one minute.
Despite Muhlenberg’s field goal percentage which was seven percentage points greater than their season average, the Bullets dragged the Mules back to a two point lead before the first quarter buzzer.
For the first five minutes of the second quarter, both teams were unable to break away from the other’s defense, scoring a cumulative six points. The three’s started to rain from Scheidel, Emily Unger ‘25 and Margaux Eripret ‘22, followed by strong fundamentals from Avery McNulty ‘26 to maintain an eight point lead at half. Like Michelangelo’s David, the Mules honed their offensive outline and executed their defensive plan with precision, exemplified in Rachel Saxton ‘25 taking a charge, which punctuated the end of the quarter.
This momentum carried through into the third as the Mules increased their lead to the largest all game (13). Much of this dominance can be attributed to the Caroline Horst ‘24 and Eripret defensive duo that racked up three blocks in the first two minutes. However, with four minutes left the Bullets started to establish the defensive power that CC has come to fear. The Mules offense did not score a single point for the first six minutes of the 4th. With two minutes left Gettysburg’s realized the hard work of their defense. Their leading scorer for the game and 12th highest scorer in CC play Alayna Arnolie made the jumper to take the Bullets first lead of the game.
Two minutes left. Thirty-eight minutes of ups and downs, steals and turnovers, dominant defense and stagnant offense, these last two minutes are the moments where championship mettle is tested. Unger, the six foot sharpshooting sophomore out of the Warwick N.Y., answered, in the last minute she took it end to end with a block that she quickly followed up with three to put the Mules ahead. The Bullets’ Mackenzie Szlosek answered with the consistency she had displayed throughout the game (shooting 6-7) and tied the game back up with nine seconds on the clock.
After a thirty-second timeout called by longtime Mules Coach Ron Rohn, the crowd went silent and the bench began to scream out 9…8…7…6. The Mules worked the ball around, with Saxton driving down the left side. With her head up Saxton hooked the ball around her defender to Unger. The bench yelled one. The ball bounced off the backboard and through the hoop. Unger had won the game 59-57. There was no doubt this team was in hot pursuit of extra games in March.