LANCASTER, Pa. – Ursinus College men's basketball senior Zack Muredda proved that veteran players make game-changing plays in crunch time as his late-game heroics willed the Bears to a nail-biting 62-60 comeback victory at Franklin & Marshall.
With the Bears down 60-57, Muredda buried an incredibly difficult, contested 3-pointer from the left wing to knot the game with 26 seconds left.
Muredda wasn't done being clutch. On the following possession with a chance for the Diplomats to deliver a game-winning dagger in the final seconds, he read Mike Rice's pass from the wing to the top of the three-point line perfectly. The guard intercepted the feed, leading to a fast break the other way in which he was fouled in the act of attempting a layup.
With ice in his veins, Muredda drained both free throws to put the Bears up 62-60 with three ticks to go. His steal and critical free throws capped off a career-high 15-point performance with eight rebounds and four steals.
Franklin & Marshall advanced the ball across half-court before they called a timeout to draw up a play with less than two seconds. The Bears forced a deep 3-pointer off the inbounds pass that barely grazed the rim.
Ursinus (8-7, 5-3) came away with a valuable road conference win, but it wasn't easy for the gritty Bears. Out of the gates, the Diplomats jumped to a 10-0 advantage. The Bears gradually clawed back and claimed the lead at 19-16 with eight minutes to go in the half when senior Eric Williams Jr. made his second triple of the game. Williams' 3 extended his three-point field goal streak to 34 consecutive games.
The Diplomats (9-6, 3-5) regained the lead and held a 35-28 edge at halftime behind strong play from Matt Redhead. Redhead poured in 14 first-half points but was held to just two in the last frame.
Ursinus was still down seven points a few minutes into the second half, But the Bears flipped the script with an 18-3 run from the 17:35 to 10:42 marks to lead 50-42. McTamney and reserve sophomores George Gordon and Lucas Olshevski accounted for all of the Bears' points during the surge.
McTamney led the Bears with 16 points and Gordon chipped in 12 on 6-of-9 shooting. Olshevski hit on all three of his shots from the field for seven points.
Franklin & Marshall found its footing again and responded with a 16-2 run of its own. Les Thomas drained his fifth 3 of the game to increase the Diplomats' lead to 58-52 with under three minutes left. Thomas contributed 15 points, all from coming from beyond the arc.
Ursinus stayed within reach as Olshevski's put-back made it a one-possession game with less than two minutes to go at 58-55. Franklin & Marshall was called for a traveling violation with 1:20 to go before McTamney made a crazy shot while falling down to get the Bears within one.
With 45 seconds remaining, Rice drove into the lane and finished with a finger roll to get the Diplomats up 60-57.
Muredda's late magic gave the Bears their second consecutive conference road win of the week, both of which featured impressive comebacks. On Tuesday, Ursinus trailed by eight with five minutes remaining before storming back for a 73-69 triumph at McDaniel.
Franklin & Marshall launched 34 three-pointers, making only nine. Ursinus efficiently made 4-of-9.
The Bears outshot the Diplomats 49-percent to 39-percent for the host team. Ursinus went 10-of-15 (66.7%) from the free-throw line. Franklin & Marshall went to the line just six times, making five.
The Bears look to complete the regular season sweep of Gettysburg at home Wednesday at 7 p.m. Ursinus took the opening matchup, 70-62, at the Battlefield on Dec. 8.