Men's Basketball Sweeps Mules With Second-Half Spree

Men's Basketball Sweeps Mules With Second-Half Spree

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's basketball team dominated the second half on both ends of the floor and coasted to an 86-59 Centennial Conference victory over Muhlenberg on Wednesday night, completing its first season sweep of the Mules in seven years.

Sophomore Eric Williams Jr. hit six 3-pointers in the second half – including deep balls on four straight possessions – and posted a game-high 21 points as Ursinus (14-10, 11-6) closed out its regular-season home slate in style. Junior Zach Quattro had 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, senior Matt Knowles scored 15 points, and sophomore Zack Muredda dished out a career-best nine assists to just one turnover for the Bears, who made eight second-half 3-pointers and turned a nip-and-tuck affair into a run-away with a huge run over the final nine minutes.

Both teams came out firing from the opening tip, Ursinus starting 9 for 13 from the field and Muhlenberg (12-11, 7-10) going 8 for 15 in a brisk first ten minutes interrupted only once by a foul. The Mules knocked down four 3-pointers in the first eight-plus minutes, but Knowles had 13 points to steady the home side, including a tough lay-up and 3-pointer that gave the Bears a 28-23 lead at the 7:28 mark.

Ursinus looked to have gained some separation when junior Remi Janicot found classmate Brian Rafferty with a picture-perfect pass for a cutting two, staking the Bears to a 39-32 lead inside the final two minutes of the period. Muhlenberg had other plans, scoring the last six points of the half to cut the Ursinus lead to one heading into the break.

Muredda (four), sophomore Matt Williams (three), and Rafferty (two) combined for nine assists against just two turnovers in the first frame, while the Mules handed out seven assists and only coughed it up twice.

Unlike the first half, only one team was clicking from the outset in the second. While Muhlenberg missed its first ten attempts, Ursinus built an 11-point lead with a run of ten unanswered markers capped by a steal and lay-up from Knowles. Undeterred, the Mules reeled off the next eight points and were within 55-52 at the 8:56 mark before the Bears kicked into another gear.

Leading by five, Knowles sailed a skip pass to Eric Williams, who checked his toes in the left corner before canning a fall-away triple. On the next trip, Muredda tip-toed along the baseline before hitting a cutting Quattro for a bucket and a 62-52 lead. Quattro's elbow jumper made it 65-52 a couple minutes later, and Eric Williams took over from there, burying four consecutive triples to cap a 24-3 run that ended with the home side ahead 79-55.

Ursinus closed the game on a 31-7 spurt over the final 8:56 and twice held Muhlenberg without a point for more than four minutes in the second stanza. The Bears outscored the Mules, 47-21, after halftime, stymying the visitors to a 7-of-30 effort (23.3 percent). Muhlenberg was just 21 of 64 (32.8 percent) for the game.

The Bears shot 54.4 percent from the field (31 of 57) and 46.2 percent from 3-point range (12 for 26), finishing with 21 assists to 12 turnovers. Quattro and Eric Williams were both 7 for 12 from the floor, Williams going 6 of 9 from 3-point distance and tallying four assists. Knowles made six of his ten field-goal attempts.

Janicot scored nine points, Matt Williams added six, and Muredda equaled freshmen Shane Stark and Ryan McTamney with five apiece; Stark collected six rebounds as well.

Owen McLeod paced Muhlenberg with 18 points and Jon Schreer chipped in 11.

The Bears needed three overtimes to win in Allentown earlier this season, but the second-half surge removed any doubt the second time around.

With Franklin & Marshall's victory at Dickinson, Ursinus finds itself in a three-way tie for third place in the CC standings. The Bears conclude the regular season at Gettysburg on Saturday and will then await their matchup in the conference tournament.