WESTMINSTER, Md. – Muhlenberg whittled away at a 16-point deficit before taking the lead with 1:43 to play and downing McDaniel 83-82 in Centennial Conference (CC) men's basketball action on Saturday.
Tyler Rudd (Glen Burnie, Md./Glen Burnie), playing in his final home game for the Green Terror (12-11, 8-10 CC), recorded his fifth double-double of the year with 17 points and 10 rebounds. He was one of five McDaniel players to reach double figures.
Andrew Merlo (Rehoboth, Del./Cape Henlopen) led the way with 18 points, draining a career-high six 3-pointers – part of a program record-tying 13 by the team. He also dished out five assists.
Phillip Perry (Crownsville, Md./Annapolis Area Christian) added 16 points while Duane Echols (Jessup, Md./Hammond) and Nic Martin (Hagerstown, Md./St. Maria Goretti) added 11 each. Evan Pupelis (Manhasset, N.Y./Manhasset) rounded out the Green Terror scorers, just missing double figures with nine.
Kevin Hargrove and Malique Killing did the lion's share of the work for the Mules (14-9, 10-6 CC) on offense, contributing 29 and 28 points, respectively. Hargove netted 21 of his points in the first half while Killing had 22 of his after the break, including an 11-for-17 showing from the free-throw line.
Trailing 69-53 on a Perry layup with 11:50 to play, James Albano hit a 3-pointer that would ultimately spark a 20-5 run over the game's next six minutes.
Two Martin free throws pushed the advantage back to 15 before Hargrove hit a layup with 10:54 to play.
Five straight points from Killing closed the deficit to 71-63 with 9:22 to play before Pupelis hit a putback layup with 8:42 showing to push the lead back to double digits but missed the ensuing free throw in an attempt to complete the three-point play.
Alec Stavetski broke out and canned a trey in the right corner with 7:55 on the clock.
A single Perry free throw made it an eight-point margin before Killing went on a personal 7-0 run to close the margin to 74-73 with 5:32 remaining.
A Perry jumper and two Rudd free throws stretched the advantage back to five just 2:13 later but an Austin Curry jumper and Killing layup off a Matt O'Hara steal once against closed the deficit to one.
Two Killing free throws with 1:43 to play gave Muhlenberg the lead for the first time since 39-38 late in the first half.
Two more Killing free throws and a pair from O'Hara pushed the advantage to five but Merlo canned his sixth triple with 54.3 seconds left to make it a one-possession game.
On a loose ball outside the arc, Rudd was fouled with 5.1 seconds showing.
He converted the second of two to close the deficit to one and the inbounds went to Killing, who was fouled immediately.
After the 84-percent free throw shooter missed both, Jimmy Cranwell (Brick, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) corralled the rebound and found Martin, who put up a running 3-pointer from the right wing that was off the mark as time expired.
Rudd opened the game with a 3-pointer from the right wing.
A Merlo triple two minutes into the game stretched the Green Terror advantage to 10-6 before the Mules reeled off nine of the game's next 11 points to take a 15-12 lead on a Hargrove dunk with 15:16 to play.
Pupelis hit a layup with 14:03 showing to close the deficit to 15-14 before Killing and Brandon Bovino each hit layups to stretch the advantage to five.
A Perry fast-break layup and Martin triple tied the game with 11:25 to play before Martin canned a pair of free throws 36 seconds later for a two-point lead.
Hargrove momentarily knotted the game once again but an Echols 3-pointer and Martin jumper gave the hosts a 26-21 edge with 9:17 to play.
A Hargrove layup and Stavetski 3-pointer knotted the game at 28-all with 7:05 showing but Pupelis responded with a jumper and Merlo canned a triple for a 33-28 lead just 1:36 later.
Another Merlo trey stretched the advantage to six before Muhlenberg scored seven straight to take a 39-38 lead on a Hargrove three-point play with 2:37 showing.
Triples from Merlo, Perry and Rudd helped close the half on a 9-2 run for a 47-41 advantage at the break.
Back-to-back buckets from Rudd and Pupelis free throw extended the lead to 11 just 1:33 into the second half.
A pair of Killing baskets closed the deficit to seven before Echols hit back-to-back 3-pointer for a 58-45 lead with 15:42 remaining.
A Merlo 3-pointer with 14:07 showing gave McDaniel its first of four 16-point leads.
By virtue of Washington's victory over Gettysburg, the Green Terror remains alive for the fifth and final playoff spot but are two games out with two to play. McDaniel needs victories in both of its remaining games and some help to make the CC tournament. Muhlenberg became the fourth team to clinch a playoff spot with the win.
The Green Terror returns to action at Swarthmore on Wednesday. Game time is 8 p.m.