More than senior Nick Rindock needed 17 points to reach 1,000 for his career, the Muhlenberg men's basketball team needed a win against a nationally ranked opponent to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Both got what they needed.
Behind an epic career-high 33-point performance from Rindock, the Mules stunned seventh-ranked Swarthmore, 91-88 in overtime, to remain a game behind Dickinson for the fifth and final Centennial Conference playoff berth with five games to go in the regular season.
Rindock (pictured above) scored 12 points in the first half and became the 35th member of Muhlenberg's 1,000-point club on a jumper with 15:34 left in the second half. The two points came at a key mark in the game; after a first half in which neither team led by more than four points, the Garnet (17-3, 11-2) opened up a 10-point cushion by scoring the first six points of the second half.
Rindock's three-pointer kicked off a 12-2 run in which he also scored two other baskets, including the one for the milestone. The surge left the game tied at 53-all five minutes into the second half and set the stage for a thrilling finish.
Neither team led by more than four points thereafter. A three by sophomore Matt Gnias with 3:36 left gave the Mules (9-11, 7-6) a 76-72 lead, but Swarthmore scored the next five points on a three by junior Cam Wiley and layup by senior Robbie Walsh to reclaim the lead.
It was 81-78 Swarthmore before Rindock made consecutive baskets, the second a tough three-pointer that put Muhlenberg ahead, 83-81, with 12.4 seconds left. Wiley banked in a shot with 3.6 ticks on the clock, sending the game into overtime.
Swarthmore took an 88-87 lead in the extra period on a three-pointer by sophomore Zac O'Dell with 2:43 left but did not score again. Two free throws by Rindock, who was a perfect 10-for-10 from the line, gave the Mules the lead for good at the 2:32 mark.
The score remained 89-88 until the closing seconds. Muhlenberg missed the front end of a one-and-one with 15.9 seconds left but forced a tough shot at the other end, and junior Erik Werheim snagged the rebound. He made both free throws to extend the lead to three with 3.6 seconds to play.
The Mules fouled intentionally with eight tenths of a second showing. Intending to make the first and miss the second for a tipin opportunity, Wiley missed both, and Muhlenberg had its second win against a nationally ranked opponent this season.
Gnias finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, while senior Owen McLeod scored 14 points. Sophomore Ryan Gaynor scored eight points off the bench, while Rindock and senior Nigel Long each dished out five assists.
The Mules made 11 three-pointers, leaving them two short of the school record of 183 threes in a season.
Senior Zack Yonda was 5-for-7 on three-pointers and led Swarthmore with 19 points. Walsh had 18 on 8-of-9 shooting to go along with five assists, while Wiley added 17 points and six assists.
Rindock is the fifth consecutive 1,000-point scorer for the men's team to reach the milestone at home, and of the previous four, one other did it in a defeat of a nationally ranked team - Spencer Liddic in a 71-67 win against 19th-ranked Franklin & Marshall in 2011.