Mules Survive Thriller to Advance to Centennial Final 65-62
(Lancaster, Pa.) – The Dickinson College men's basketball team suffered a heartbreaking loss in the semifinals of the Centennial Conference Championship, falling to #2-seed Muhlenberg, 65-62. The #3-seed Red Devils played well early, taking a 36-30 lead at halftime. The Mules answered with a strong second half, outscoring the Devils, 35-26, to advance to Saturday night's final.
The game was close in the early minutes as the teams traded baskets. The Devils stretched the lead to 30-24 on a lay-up from first-year Chris Cox (Dix Hills, N.Y./Half Hollow Hills West ). Cox scored back-to-back lay-ups to put the Devils up, 36-30, at halftime.
Sophomore Adam Honig (Chappaqua, N.Y./Horace Greeley) scored nine points in the first half while classmate Tucker Landy (Durham, Conn./Xavier) added seven and Thomas McInerney (York, Pa./York Suburban) grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Chris Barsanti (Hummelstown, Pa./Tilton School) scored and then assisted Gerry Wixted (Moorestown, N.J./Lawrenceville School) to quickly extend the Devil lead to 10 to start the second half. A 15-4 run by the Mules erased the lead and put Muhlenberg up, 45-44, with 13:22 remaining in the game.
Muhlenberg stretched the lead to seven, 55-48, with 9:21 left to play. The Devils rallied, pulling within two on a Honig three-pointer with 7:19 on the clock. Malique Killing traded lay-ups with Wixted give the Mules a 59-57 edge with 5:07 to play.
The Mules hilt 2-of-4 free throws to lead 61-57 before senior Chris Heine (Spring Lake, N.J./St. Rose) hit a three-pointer to pull Dickinson within one with 1:28 remaining. Heine grabbed a rebound on the other end and McInerney knocked-down a jumper in the paint to put Dickinson in front, 62-61, with 28 seconds remaining in regulation.
Killing drew a foul and hit both free throws to put Muhlenberg back in front. The Devils missed and were forced to foul. Matt O'Hara hit both free throws to put the Mules up, 65-62, with just over four seconds on the clock. The ball was tipped out of bounds at mid-court with Dickinson keeping possession.
Muhlenberg was looking to foul before the Devils could attempt a game-tying three-pointer, forcing Honig to catch and shoot the in-bounds pass almost immediately. His shot was off the mark and the Mules held on for the win.
Honig led the Devils with a team-high 14 points, handing out a pair of assists. Wixted recorded his 10th double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He was perfect from the free throw line, hitting 6-of-6 attempts. Wixted broke the Centennial Conference record for rebounds by a first-year, pulling down 236 in his rookie season.
Wixted finished one point shy of Georgio Milligan's rookie scoring mark of 444. Killing currently has 444 points this season, entering tomorrow's final. He scored 17 points to lead all scorers. Wixted hit a remarkable 157-of-182 free throws for 86 percent. He currently ranks third all-time in free throw percentage by a rookie in conference history.
Landy scored eight points and handed out four assists. McInerney tallied seven points and eight rebounds while Barsanti dished out four assists, adding four points, four rebounds and two assists.
Spencer Liddic added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Muhlenberg (18-8).
The Red Devils finished 14-12 overall, making a second straight appearance in the conference semifinals.