On Saturday, the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team trailed Washington by 14 points at halftime and 17 points a minute into the second half, only to come back and win, 60-57.
Incredible? Maybe, but even more remarkable is that it was only the third-best comeback by this year’s senior class.
Three times in the last four years, the Mules have come back to win after trailing on the road by at least 15 points. Asked to rank the three memorable games, three members of the senior class put them in the same order.
Kimberly Mui: Rochester would definitely be number one because of how important this game was. In the first half, we were dominated by Rochester. I actually thought we were going to get blown out and have a miserable five-hour drive home the next day. However, when the second half started and I saw the look in Kelly McKeon’s eyes, I knew we had a chance.
The fact that we beat Rochester on their own court (something that was rarely done in the postseason), down by 17 to take us to the Sweet 16 is something I’ll never forget. We showed a lot of people that day what we were made of and how much heart we have. At halftime I remember walking by some Rochester students sitting in the stands, and they were laughing at us because of how bad we were doing. I think that sparked a lot of us. Even though I didn’t play in this game, the excitement and energy of the game made me feel as if I were completely involved.
Kathleen Naddaff: We obviously had a lot more at stake, and a game in the NCAA Tournament means more than a regular-season game. Although I was not able to play in that game because of my ankle, I was right there with the team, and sitting on the bench was probably harder than actually playing in the game.
Katy Rossino: This comeback meant the most to me because of everything that surrounded it. At halftime, the opposing team, coach and fans thought the game was won and we couldn’t compete with them. But we proved how strong of a team we were in the second half and came back from a large deficit.
2. February 21, 2009 – Muhlenberg 68, Ursinus 65. The Mules were down by 15 late in the first half and still trailed by 10 with 6:30 left. Alexandra Chili hit the game-winning three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left. (game recap | video)
Mui: Ursinus is a close second because of what that win meant to us. It wouldn’t beat Rochester because it wasn’t a playoff game, and losing this game wouldn’t have ended our season. However, with this Ursinus win we became the first women’s team to ever win 18 conference games and go undefeated. I did not have a good feeling about it, because we were down 10-15 points all game. I remember looking at the clock with about five minutes to go and thinking to myself, “oh my God, we might actually lose this game.”
I rarely played my freshman year, so when I got called upon to play defense with about a minute left, I was so nervous. At this point we were only down by two, so I really couldn’t make a mistake. When I got that steal from their inbounds play, it honestly couldn’t have been a better feeling. Knowing my steal led to the game-tying basket made me feel on top of the world, especially as a freshman who didn’t see much floor time. Chili’s three-pointer was so clutch, and so surreal. That was an incredible win to continue our amazing season. Going undefeated in the conference was an unbelievable feeling and that game is one I will never forget.
Naddaff: It was a really great win because it was the last game we needed to win to remain undefeated in the conference. That was a great feeling and we really pulled together to make that happen.
Rossino: This comeback was exciting because we were freshmen on a team with girls that we looked up to. They were able to use their leadership and experience to bring us back from a game we thought we had lost to go undefeated in the conference.
3. January 21, 2012 – Muhlenberg 60, Washington 57. (game recap)
Mui: Washington comes in third, but it does not make it any less amazing. Since we lost two games this week, this was a big game for us. Washington was hot coming into the game, winning nine of their last 10. If we lost this game, it would be devastating for our morale. Three losses in one week is hard to imagine or comprehend.
When we found ourselves down in the first half, we didn’t really get into panic mode. I felt as if we were not playing bad, but we were just not hitting shots. If we could get some energy to get us going, I thought we would have a chance to get back into the game.
Coach gave us a longer-than-normal halftime speech, and let us choose what we wanted to do in the second half. We knew that we needed to change the way we were playing and the flow of the game, so we decided to press. Even when we were down by 17 during the second half, I never felt as if we were out of the game. However, coming back and winning on Washington’s floor felt incredible.
Although this game had no repercussions if we lost, I think this was a turning point in the season. I can’t predict the future, but this game shows how much heart this team has, and the amount of skill we possess. I think we also showed ourselves what we need to do the rest of the season to be as successful as possible.
Naddaff: It really defined working together and playing as a team. Every single girl on that court was confident in each other, and this year more than others everyone on the team remains completely positive and encouraging. Our bench is amazing and we really do just enjoy playing together and winning as a TEAM.
Rossino: This comeback was a very important win for us. We started off the season great and then had two tough losses. If we had lost Saturday, we would have lost three times in one week. This win taught us that we need to go into every game knowing that the outcome is in our hands, rather than expecting to win games before they even begin.
So how are the Mules able to pull off these comebacks time and again? The seniors have some different theories:
Rossino: Our team is able to make unbelievable comebacks because we like to keep our fans on edge. Another possible explanation could be that we can sometimes start off games flat, and need to have the halftime talk to refocus and figure out what we need to do to win.
Naddaff: Teamwork is really our motto on this team and that is what we do when we need to win – we work together and trust each other. We never give up and we never hang our heads and we try to concentrate on the “next play” and work from there. I have honestly never played on a team with so much spirit and so much love for the game. It really is fun when we come back and win because every single girl is a part of that.
Mui: I think the one thing about this team that makes these incredible comebacks possible is chemistry and teamwork. We’re all such good friends off the court, that it translates on the court. We trust each other, and we always want each other to do well. I think that chemistry goes a long way on the basketball court. It can determine the flow and energy of the game, because teammates help bring each other up (or down). Coming from behind to win a game isn’t all about offense. It requires the team to get stops on defense. During all three of these wins, our team defense was incredible, which led to the spark on offense.