The Muhlenberg men's basketball team extended its winning streak in the new year to three games, this time in comeback fashion by a score of 82-80 over 22nd-ranked Franklin & Marshall.
Trailing by as many as 18 points in the first half and by 11 points at halftime, the Mules (5-7, 3-3) trimmed the deficit by outscoring the Diplomats 12-4 in the first 4:27 of the second half.
F&M (11-2, 5-1) responded with a run to go back up by double digits, but Muhlenberg once again answered with a rally of its own. A three-pointer from junior Brendan Hughes and layups by sophomore Ryan Gaynor and seniors JeanLee Baez and Nick Rindock cut the deficit to 64-59. After a F&M layup, freshman Spencer Duke drained a three-pointer to bring the Mules within four.
Duke then contributed an assist on a Matt Gnias three-pointer to make it a one-point game. The Mules completed their comeback push with just under five minutes left, taking their first lead of the game at 73-72 on two Michael Morreale free throws. On the next Mule possession, Rindock drove inside for a tough layup to extend the lead to three.
The Diplomats battled back to retake the lead with 2:05 remaining, but the Mule defense tightened up in the last two minutes, forcing three critical turnovers and allowing only one field goal. Rindock helped the Mules retake the lead with two more free throws and added four more down the stretch to seal the upset.
Gnias tied two career highs with 25 points and eight rebounds, making a career-best five three-pointers. He also added three assists and two steals.
Rindock finished with 16 points and dished out eight assists. Baez contributed 12 points and five rebounds, and senior Owen McLeod also scored in double figures with 10 points.
Muhlenberg shot 56 percent from the field and made 6 of 12 three-pointers during its second-half rally. The defense held the Diplomats to 39.4 percent shooting in the second half and forced 17 turnovers throughout the game, including nine in the latter half.
The win is the first for the Mules over a ranked opponent since 2012, which was also a home win over an F&M team that was ranked eighth at the time.
J.C. McGrath recorded a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds for F&M, while Matthew Tate had 23 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals. The leading scorer in the Centennial Conference, Brandon Federici, was held to 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting.