Tait Scores 18 Points, Grabs 14 Rebounds, Dishes Out 8 Assists in Loss
CHESTERTOWN, MD -- Alexandra Chili knocked down what would prove to be the game-winning jumper with 41 seconds remaining in the game as 14th-ranked Muhlenberg College rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to defeat host Washington College, 60-57, in a Centennial Conference women's basketball game this afternoon inside Cain Athletic Center. The Mules improved to 14-2 overall and 9-2 in conference play with the win, while the Shorewomen slipped to 11-6 and 6-6 with the loss.
The Shorewomen dominated the first half, taking a 33-19 lead into the intermission. Washington's lead grew to as many as 17 points on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Claire Mattox (Arlington, VA/Potomac School) with 19:07 to play in the second half that extended the lead to 38-21. The Mules then went on a 10-0 run, capped off by back-to-back three-pointers by Chili to trim the margin to 38-31 with 16:10 to go. Later in the half, Muhlenberg scored five straight points to whittle the margin down to one point at 51-50 on a Chili lay-up with 8:52 to play. The Shorewomen countered by scoring the next four points, extending the lead to 55-50 on a jumper by senior guard Meghan Tait (Oxford, PA/Oxford Area) with 6:37 remaining. That basket marked the final made field goal of the game for Washington, which wouldn't score again for well over five minutes.
Points were not much easier to come by for the Mules in the final minutes. Kate Clawson knocked down a three-pointer to trim the lead to 55-53 with 5:23 to go, but Muhlenberg would not score again until Leeann Lanza converted a game-tying lay-up with 2:05 remaining. Alita Zabrecky gave the Mules their first lead of the game with a pair of free throws with 1:10 on the clock, putting Muhlenberg in front, 57-55. Tait connected on a pair of free throws for the Shorewomen with 53 seconds to go to deadlock the score at 57-57, but Chili gave the Mules the lead for good on a jumper near the foul line on Muhlenberg's next possession.
Tait missed a lay-up with 16 seconds to go and Zabrecky grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 11 seconds remaining. Zabrecky made one of her two free throws and a potential game-tying three-pointer by Washington senior guard Sally O'Donnell (Cape May Court House, NJ/Wildwood Catholic) was off the mark with two seconds left as the Mules held on for the win.
Chili finished with a game-best 21 points in the win for Muhlenberg, 18 of them coming after halftime. She also brought down seven rebounds and handed pout three assists. Lanza added 12 points and three steals for the Mules, while Zabrekcy tallied nine points, five boards, and three assists.
Tait scored 18 points, matched her career high with a game-best 14 rebounds, handed out a game-best eight assists, and shared game-high honors in steals with Lanza by swiping three. Sophomore forward Erin Fitzgerald (Greensboro, NC/Bishop McGuiness) added 11 points off the bench for Washington.
Muhlenberg, which led for just 58 seconds of the entire game, shot just 8-for-34 from the field in the first half, but shot 14-of-27 in the second half. The Mules also turned the ball over just eight times to Washington's 17, helping offset the Shorewomen''s 48-35 advantage in rebounds.
The Shorewomen return to action Wednesday with a 6:00 p.m. Centennial Conference game at Ursinus.