COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's basketball team used a second-half sprint from its reserves to pull away from Muhlenberg on Wednesday, 75-61.
The Bears (11-5, 7-2) reeled off their sixth win in a row – and denied the Mules a sixth straight victory – thanks to a 16-3 run in the second frame from the second unit, led by junior Matt Williams, freshman Bruce Edwards and company. The winning streak matches the longest for Ursinus since a 23-game run during the magical Final Four season ten years ago.
Matt Williams kicked off the scoring onslaught with a 3-pointer before Edwards took the rock coast to coast for a highlight-slam following a block from sophomore Shane Stark. Stark added a pair of layups before Matt Williams got back in on the action with a jumper. Junior Remi Janicot added a pair of free throws before junior Zach Quattro capped the run with a trey. The run took a 43-42 ball game in favor of the Bears with 16:01 to play and put it practically out of reach in just less than six minutes, padding the Bears' lead to 59-45.
Active hands also paid huge dividends for the Bears in the second half, as the Mules (7-8, 5-4) were able to get all their shots off without any blocks in the first half. However, the Bears were on guard in the second frame, blocking eight attempts with three players getting their hands on a pair of shots (senior Brian Rafferty, Quattro, and Stark).
The victory not only extended the Bears' win streak, but also handed Muhlenberg its first loss in 2018.
The Bears struck first in the contest with a lay-in from Stark, but the Mules responded with a bucket of their own. That was the story as the lead changes hands eight times in the first 20 minutes of play, with the Bears controlling the advantage for 12:17 of the half.
Freshman George Gordon had a strong first half of play, using his size advantage early and often. He got on the board with a jumper to put the Bears up 12-10 with 14:14 to go in the half and scored again on a lay-up thanks to a pass from Matt Williams less than a minute later.
Edwards hit the Bears' first 3-pointer of the game seven and half minutes into the contest, draining the open look. That triggered a 3-pointer from junior Eric Williams Jr., who hit a deep jumper from a few feet behind the line to put the Bears up 20-14 with 11:43 left in the first half.
The Mules would cut the lead to 23-21, but the Bears wouldn't give up the lead, as they opened up an 8-2 run, pulling the lead to eight – their largest of the first half. Rafferty kicked off the run with a layup before Janicot pulled down an offensive board and put it back for two points. Janicot recorded another basket before assisting on a lay-in from Gordon that completed the offensive outburst with 5:41 left in the frame.
Muhlenberg wouldn't quit, with the Mules opening up a 9-0 spurt and taking a 32-31 lead with 2:37 to play before the break. Sophomore Ryan McTamney stopped the bleeding with a turnaround floater that put the Bears back on top 33-32. The teams would trade buckets to close out the half with Ursinus on top 35-34.
Following the second-half run for Ursinus, the Bears controlled the pace of play, preventing the Mules from putting together any sort of comeback attempt. Accurate shooting played a huge part in securing the win, as the Bears shot 49.2 percent from the field on the day, including 73.3 percent from the charity stripe (11-of-15).
Quattro and Stark each accounted for four points in the final seven minutes of play, while junior Zach Muredda chipped in a basket. McTamney continued his trend of crashing the offensive boards for put-back points, recording another tip-in with 2:53 to play, keeping the Bears lead at 73-56.
Stark, Quattro and McTamney each finished in double digits, as the latter two scored 12, while Stark led all Bears with 14 points. He'd add seven rebounds, a pair of blocks and a steal to his line while Quattro wrapped up a rebounds shy of a double-double, while recording a pair each of assists and blocks.
Gordon and Janicot each scored eight points off the bench, shooting a combined 6-of-10 from the floor.
Ursinus held Muhlenberg, which came in leading the CC in 3-pointers made and attempted, to 3 for 15 (20.0 percent) from behind the arc and controlled a 48-33 advantage on the glass.
The Bears are back at Helfferich Hall on Saturday when they host McDaniel on Alumni Day.