With 7.4 seconds left on the game clock on Feb. 16, the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team entered a timeout huddle pumped. Sara Dilly ‘19 had made an acrobatic layin with 20 seconds left to go up 53-52, and an insurance free throw by Emilie Benton ‘20 gave the Mules a two point lead against Franklin & Marshall. Knowing defense was Muhlenberg’s strength, there was reason to be confident.
Timeout ends. Play resumes. F&M inbounds the ball, dribbles to the corner, passes to the key, and after a sequence of Diplomats sneakily criss-crossing, a pass was sent back into the corner. The three point attempt swooshed through the basket leaving .7 seconds for Muhlenberg to unsuccessfully attempt a tap-in-to-win. It was a win the Mules needed. Going into the game they knew they determined their own fate to make the playoffs as the fourth or fifth seed. With the Franklin & Marshall three, their season had ended in the blink of an eye, on senior day nonetheless, ending a 14 season streak of the program making the playoffs.
Then, just minutes after their loss, the Mules received a phone call. It was a lifeline.
Centennial Conference rival Dickinson lost a shocking upset to Washington College after a Red Devils’ second half comeback attempt fell short.
In their contest against the Dips, The Lady Mules shot only 15-58 from the field while making only 7-27 shots from behind the arc. On top of that, they missed nine free throws, which proved to be costly as the Diplomats’ margin of victory was so slim.
“You win and you advance,” said Emily O’Mahoney ‘20 after the F&M game. “What happened in the regular season is what got us here, but now that record does not matter because anyone can win any game. We have to take the playoffs one game at a time.”
A positive from the matchup against the Dips was the strong play of the team’s first-year players, most notably Margaux Epiret ‘22, who posted the first double-double of her young collegiate career with 13 points and 11 rebounds. She lead the team in each category. Mikaela McGarvey ‘22, added clutch three pointers from close to half court kept the game nip and tuck right down to the wire.
“We have fought hard all season, so I expect us to keep fighting until the very end,” O’Mahoney said.
Unfortunately, while the Mules fought like O’Mahoney predicted, the women suffered a first round loss in the Centennial Conference playoffs at the paws of the Ursinus Bears on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
A 25 percent shooting percentage highlighted the 57-38 contest which featured a Mules offense that was kept quiet, scoring only six, nine, and seven points in the first, second and third quarters respectively. Dilly tied a season high, scoring 13 points in the season finale.
Although the early exit from the 2019 playoffs will sting until the 2019-2020 season commences, the Mules did break a program record for least points allowed per game, with an average of 52.0. It is the best mark in the shot clock era, according to the Muhlenberg Athletics website.
Additional reporting by Matt Riebesell, Managing Editor.