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Women's Basketball Swarms No. 16 Muhlenberg, 52-44

Julianna Clark
Julianna Clark
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HAVERFORD, Pa. - The Haverford College women's basketball team used a swarming defensive effort to take down conference-leading No. 16 Muhlenberg by a final score of 52-44 on Tuesday evening inside the Gooding '84 Arena. The victory is Haverford's first over a ranked opponent since a 70-56 victory over then-No. 21 Marymount (Va.) in November of 2013.

Haverford was paced by first year Julianna Clark, who registered a pair of career bests with 13 points and five assists. Samantha Wetzel narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. 

Haverford is now 18-4 on the season (14-3 Centennial Conference) while Muhlenberg falls to 20-2 (15-2 CC) after suffering its first road setback of the season.

The Fords defense held the Mules to a season-low 25.4 percent shooting, the first time Muhlenberg has shot below 30 percent from the field this season. Muhlenberg's 44 points was also a season low, as Haverford was able to disarm a potent offense that came into the contest averaging 73.4 points per contest. 

Haverford began the game on a tidy 6-0 run, stretching the lead to 12-5 as Macy Goldbach sank a three-pointer exactly halfway through the opening stanza, her second of the contest.  The lead increased to 10 with a Katie Cook trey with 3:27 remaining in the first.

Muhlenberg kept things tight, as Carley Hamilton converted a jumper to cut the lead to 17-15 in the early minutes of the second period. Haverford went back on the offensive, with a 9-0 run that extended the lead to 11 at 26-15 with just over three minutes left in the half. The Fords took a 10-point advantage into the locker room for halftime at 28-18.

Goldbach knocked down her third three-pointer of the night to open the scoring for the Fords in the third period, and Clark answered a Hamilton jumper with a three-pointer for an 11-point lead with five minutes remaining in the third. Megan Furch then converted a pair from the free-throw line for a 13 point Haverford lead, the largest of the lead for the hosts, who never trailed.

An 8-0 Muhlenberg run was punctuated by a pair of Sarah Dilly threes, and the stretch eventually blossomed into a 15-2 jaunt for the Mules. The visitors battled back from the largest deficit of the contest to tie the score on a Chelsea Gary layup with 6:12 remaining in regulation. Suddenly, new-found momentum seemed to be on the side of Muhlenberg. 

Clark stopped the flurry, giving Haverford a 41-38 lead with a three-pointer following a Muhlenberg miss. Hamilton answered on the other end of the floor to cut the Haverford lead to 42-40 with 4:07 left. Clark again connected from beyond the arc for a 45-40 lead with three minutes to go, and Hamilton yet again answered on the other end. Haverford clung to a three-point lead at 45-42 with 1:56 to play in regulation.

With 48 seconds left, Furch wrangled a steal from Chelsea Gary and was fouled in the ensuing scramble for posession, heading to the line for two shots in a sequence that left the Gooding Arena crowd on its feet. Furch hit both free throws for a five point lead and Rachel Plotke missed her shot attempt on the ensuing Muhlenberg possession.

Forced to foul, Muhlenberg put Clark on the line as the first year sank both shots to establish a new career high with 13 points. Clark tallied a steal with 18 seconds left and Cook gave Haverford an eight point lead from the free-throw line with 15 seconds to play, putting things out of reach for the Mules.

The Tuesday night victory was the third in Haverford's program history over a ranked opponent and represented the first home win over nationally ranked opposition. The Fords took down then-No. 14 Muhlenberg in Allentown, 58-55, in 2012 for the only other win against a ranked Centennial foe.

Wetzel and Goldbach each tallied three blocks on the night, while Furch added a pair of steals. Gary and Hamilton both had 12 points for Muhlenberg, with Gary registering the only double-double of the game with 10 rebounds. Dilly added nine points on 3-for-5 shooting from three-point range.

The journey to the Centennial Conference tournament continues for the Fords, who will close out the home portion of the regular season on Thursday, February 8 as Johns Hopkins makes the trip to the Main Line for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off.