The weather outside was frightful. But inside Billera Hall, the second half of yesterday’s doubleheader against DeSales was a delight for Muhlenberg basketball fans.
The Mule men’s team led from start to finish in an 83-64 win that included several noteworthy accomplishments:
Muhlenberg improved its record to 7-1. It’s only the 10th time in the history of a program that began in 1900 that the Mules have at least seven wins through their first eight games – and only the third time in the last 58 years. Most of the first nine teams to get off to such fast starts had memorable seasons.
- 1929 started 7-1, finished 9-4
- 1935 started 11-1, finished 14-5
- 1943-44 started 10-1, finished 20-5 and played in NIT
- 1944-45 started 11-0, finished 24-4 and played in NIT
- 1945-46 started 16-1, finished 23-5 and played in NIT
- 1947-48 started 9-1, finished 21-4 and won MAC championship
- 1955-56 started 8-0, finished 15-10
- 1968-69 started 7-1, finished 19-6 and won MAC South championship
- 1984-85 started 7-1, finished 19-7 and won MAC Southwest
Muhlenberg won the unofficial “LVIII” championship. For the first time since the 2005-06 season, the Mules defeated both Division III Lehigh Valley rivals, Moravian and DeSales. The Mules won both games by 19 points on the road – it was the first time in 35 years that they knocked off Moravian and DeSales on their home courts in the same season.
The Mules handed DeSales their worst home loss in eight years. The Bulldogs suffered an 80-58 loss to King’s late in the 2005-06 season. They started a 23-game home winning streak the following year and have remained hard to beat on their home court. Muhlenberg hadn’t won at Billera Hall since the 2000-01 season and hadn’t won there by more than 15 points since the 1986-87 year.
Muhlenberg made foul shots. This is not as noteworthy an accomplishment, since the Mules have been taking their free points all season. Muhlenberg was 22-for-25 from the line, improving its season percentage – which ranked eighth in Division III at the start of the week – to .813. Over the last five games, the Mules are 111-for-130 (.854) on free throws.
Kevin Hargrove reached a milestone. The senior center (pictured) blocked two shots to bring his career total to an even 200. Already the Mules’ career leader, Hargrove is the fourth player in Centennial Conference history to record 200 blocked shots. He needs 12 more swats to move into third place on the CC’s all-time list.
The Mules were stingy on defense. Hargrove is the centerpiece of a defense that held DeSales, which had scored 80 and 81 points in its last two games, to a season-low 64 points on 32.1-percent shooting. The Mules entered the week 13th in Division III in field-goal percentage defense and lowered their mark to .363. In Muhlenberg’s seven wins, opponents have shot just 34.2 percent.