Valiant Winning Streak Reaches Seven as MVille Defeats Muhlenberg, 58-55
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Freshman Jack Bramswig (Pleasantville, N.Y./Pleasantville) narrowly missed the first double-double of his career and the Manhattanville men's basketball team held Muhlenberg College to just 19 points in the second half as the Valiants came back to defeat the Mules by a 58-55 score in first-round action of the 33rd annual Greyhound Starters Classic, hosted by Moravian College on Sunday night at Johnston Hall.
Manhattanville (10-1, 2-0 Freedom), tops among teams receiving votes in the latest D3Hoops.com Division III Poll, advances to tomorrow night's championship game, where the Valiants will face off with host Moravian starting at 7:30 p.m. Muhlenberg (5-4) will play Wentworth Institute of Technology tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. in the consolation round.
Bramswig played a big role in the Valiants picking up their seventh straight victory, as the freshman came one rebound short of a double-double with new season highs of 16 points and nine boards. The forward shot 8 of 12 from the floor and added two steals and an assist in 27 minutes. Junior Trevoy Pointer (Dallas, Texas/Skyline) reached double figures yet again for Manhattanville with 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting, while junior Ivan Jovicic (Belgrade, Serbia/Sports HS Belgrade) had eight points in nine minutes off the bench for the designated visiting team.
Spencer Liddic led Muhlenberg with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, followed by Rob Berish with 12 points and Kevin Hargrove with 11.
Sunday night's game was clearly marked by two very distinct halves, as the Mules won the first half but saw the Valiants come back to take ownership of the second frame and ultimately the game. Muhlenberg shot 15 of 28 (53.6 percent) in the opening frame before being held to just 7-of-24 shooting (29.2 percent) in the second stanza to finish at 42.3 percent for the game. Meanwhile, Manhattanville connected on 13 of 22 attempts (59.1 percent) from the floor in the final 20 minutes after 36.4 percent (12 for 33) shooting in the first half to finish at 45.5 percent overall.
The first half started slowly for Manhattanville, as the team allowed Muhlenberg to start the contest with an 8-2 run, and as a result the Mules never trailed after that in the opening half. The Valiant deficit grew to as many as eight points three times in the half, the last coming with 1:01 on the clock after a Liddic transition dunk. A layup by Bramswig trimmed the deficit to six headed into intermission, however, at 36-30.
The second half started just as the first ended with a layup by the Valiant freshman that cut the Muhlenberg lead to four, and Manhattanville soon after went on an 8-0 run that turned a 41-36 deficit into a 44-41 lead – the team's first lead since the opening three minutes.
After Liddic put his team up by two (48-46) with 11:20 left, the Valiants then clamped down defensively and held the Mules without a point for nearly five minutes. A basket by junior Glen Rodriguez (Ponce, Puerto Rico/Miami (Fla.) LaSalle) retied the score at 48-all with exactly nine minutes left, followed by a series of defensive stands in which neither team found the hoop for almost three minutes.
Manhattanville regained the lead with 4:54 remaining on a jumper by Bramswig, and the freshman followed up later in the frame with another clutch basket that this time gave his squad a three-point cushion (56-53) with 1:44 left on the clock. A tip-in by Hargrove with 1:13 left put the pressure back on the Valiant offense, but after two fouls allowed the time to dwindle down, Pointer came up with another huge late-game basket by beating the shot clock with nine seconds left. The shot regained the Valiants' three-point lead and provided the final score of the contest after a last-second three by Austin Curry did not connect.