ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's basketball team continued its road warrior ways – and its success in Allentown – with a resounding 83-55 Centennial Conference victory at Muhlenberg on Thursday night.
Junior Shane Stark powered his way to 15 points and 13 rebounds for his fifth career double-double, classmate Ryan McTamney added 15 points of his own, and 11 players got on the scoresheet as the Bears (11-7, 8-3) improved to 5-1 in conference road games and won their fourth straight at Memorial Hall. Ursinus has won four in a row and six of its last seven overall.
Freshman Ryan Hughes stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, six assists, and five rebounds for Ursinus, which outscored the Mules (8-10, 5-6) by a 47-24 margin in the second half and controlled a 55-32 discrepancy on the glass. The Bears hit 11 3-pointers on the night, including two by freshman Peyton Vostenak and one from sophomore transfer Jack Packer in the closing minutes.
The Bears came out of the gates cold, missing their first three shots and falling behind 6-0. In need of a spark, Ursinus turned to its bench, a huge size advantage, and its opportunistic defense to flip the game upside down.
After freshman Ryan Hughes got the scoring started with a right-wing triple, sophomore Lucas Olshevski gave the Bears an immediate injection of energy off the bench. The forward scored on three consecutive possessions, first on a beautiful baseline drive and dish by classmate Bruce Edwards and then on a pair of put-backs to pull Ursinus within 12-11.
A quick cross-court pass from sophomore George Gordon to senior Eric Williams Jr. led to a 3-pointer and the first lead of the night at 14-12 before Hughes finished through contract and junior Ryan McTamney put back a miss off a turnover to cap a lightning-quick 9-0 burst.
The Bears ratcheted up the pressure to build on their recently acquired advantage. McTamney scored on a breakaway following a steal, then senior Zack Muredda picked a Mule's pocket from behind and fed ahead to Edwards for a transition bucket and scored all by himself following another swipe to make it 24-14 at the 10:14 mark of the first half.
Ursinus expanded its lead to 14 on a dish from Hughes to senior Matt Williams for an easy lay-in that made it 34-20 with 4:35 to play, but Muhlenberg closed the period on an 11-2 run to slice the spread to five (36-31) at intermission.
The Bears outrebounded Muhlenberg, 28-18, forced eight turnovers, and limited the hosts to just 4-of-20 (20.0 percent) from 3-point land in the first 20 minutes. Muhlenberg missed its first eight from beyond the arc and finished just 7-for-33 (21.2 percent).
The Bears got right back to business after the break. Stark scored inside plus a foul on the opening possession of the second stanza, and McTamney buried a wide-open trey from the right wing on the next trip. The Mules answered both times, but Hughes hit a short jumper and McTamney netted another put-back to go up 45-36.
After a Mule triple, Stark converted back-to-back buckets to put Ursinus back up by double digits at 49-39. The Bears went cold for a stretch, but straight-on 3's from Muredda and McTamney on back-to-back trips nearly doubled a seven-point lead to 13 at 59-46 with just under nine minutes remaining.
Junior Shane Stark converted a three-point play with a runner in the lane and dished out to McTamney for another 3-pointer to make it 67-51 at the 6:26 mark, and Ursinus was never threatened again.
Vostenak and Packer provided some highlights in the final minutes, with Vostenak sandwiching a pair of swished 3's around a 28-footer from the top of the key by Packer. Ursinus was 19-of-35 (54.3 percent) from the field and 7-for-12 (58.3 percent) on 3's in the second half.
Stark was the key to a major mismatch inside, going 7-for-10 from the floor to back up a 21-point, 9-rebound effort in a win over No. 10 Swarthmore last Saturday. Olshevski grabbed seven boards in 13 minutes of action.
Muredda finished with eight points, four rebounds, four assists, and four steals and Edwards went 2-for-3 for four points with three rebounds and three assists.
The Bears continue a stretch of three straight road games with a trip to Dickinson on Saturday. Ursinus currently leads the Red Devils by a game in the CC standings.