W. Basketball falls short against top-ranked Mules

By MATTHEW RITCHIE | December 7, 2017

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HOPKINSSPORTS.COM Junior guard Lexie Scholtz scored a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds.

This past Saturday, the Hopkins women’s basketball team matched up against Centennial Conference adversary, the now 19th-ranked Muhlenberg College Mules. The Blue Jays fell just short of completing a big upset against the Mules, losing 69-64 in overtime in a thrilling matchup between the Centennial Conference foes.

The game was characterized by prolonged runs and see-saw action between the two teams, as the first half alone saw six lead changes and four ties. Going into the second half, the Blue Jays held the lead with a score of 29-28, thanks to a pair of free throws by junior guard Lexie Scholtz, who had a game-high of 26 points and 11 rebounds.

Muhlenberg quickly took the lead with a 7-1 run to start off the third quarter, bringing the score to 36-30. However, before the end of the quarter, Hopkins fired back with a 9-3 run to even up the score at 39. But by the end of the third quarter, the visitors had responded again with another big run, bringing the score up to 48-43.

The action picked up even more in the final quarter, as the last six minutes of regulation saw five lead changes alone. Scholtz, who shot 43 percent from the three-point arc this game, drained a three at the six-minute mark to put the Blue Jays up 50-49. Just as soon as the Blue Jays grabbed the lead, Muhlenberg center Carley Hamilton drained a jump shot to put the Mules up by one.

The back-and-forth action continued, as Scholtz put Hopkins back into the lead with a mid-range jumper with 5:12 left on the clock. As the Mules took the lead with less than two minutes left in the game, the action intensified, giving us an exhilarating end to regulation. Scholtz hit a three-pointer to put Hopkins back in front, with little over a minute left in the game. Junior guard Sophia Way then increased the lead to 57-54. With the game winding down in less than 10 seconds, Muhlenberg guard Rachel Plotke hit a three with six seconds left to send the game to overtime.

The Blue Jays looked to extend their high-effort play to overtime. It started off promising, with Scholtz draining another mid-range jumper. However, the Mules jumped out to a 7-0 run, and they never looked back, taking the 69-64 win.

The Jays’ play was characterized by resilient comebacks and periods of sustained offense. They were able to stay strong against Muhlenberg’s numerous runs. Junior guard Madison McGrath, who added 10 points and three assists in the matchup, remained optimistic after the loss.

“I’m really proud of how we played, and I think that we showed resilience,” McGrath said. “One of our goals this year is to be competitive, and every person on our team really showed that we are capable of that.”

The team showed off strong flashes that encouraged the team to look forward to the rest of the season. Scholtz echoed the sentiment expressed by McGrath.

“I thought our team played one of our best games this season. Of course, we’re disappointed with the loss, but we played hard. Everyone stepped up and contributed in their own way,” Scholtz said.

The Blue Jays had three players put up double-digit point totals: Scholtz, McGrath and junior guard Lillian Scott, who had 15 points to go along with four assists.

With a great effort that ended with a disappointing finish, Hopkins plans to continue the type of play that they exhibited on Saturday. They played a nationally-ranked team with high intensity until the very end, displaying a toughness and resilience that should have the players and the fans optimistic about the rest of season.

“I’m really excited to see how much we can continue to grow and gel together as a team and also have the opportunity to compete for a Centennial Conference Championship,” McGrath said.

Scholtz also believes that this past showing gave a promising look into the future of this team.

“We showed a lot of potential Saturday. There’s always room for improvement, but I think this week we demonstrated the capacity to play with some good teams,” Scholtz said.

Hopkins will have a chance to put on yet another strong performance against Franklin & Marshall on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

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