BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College women's basketball team trailed rival Muhlenberg College by 13 points less than a minute into the second half before rallying for a 58-54 non-conference win in Johnston Hall Tuesday evening to give Head Coach Mary Beth Spirk her 600th career victory.
Spirk, who is now 600-287 in her 33rd season leading the Blue and Grey, becomes the eight active NCAA Division III coach and 19th overall Division III coach to reach 600 career victories. She is also the 33rd active NCAA coach across all divisions with 600 career wins and the 71st coach at any level of the NCAA to earn 600 victories. The win is Spirk's second milestone victory over rival Muhlenberg in Johnston Hall as she picked up win number 300 versus the Mules on January 26, 2004. She has hit three milestones on the road and now three in Johnston Hall.
"What makes it a really special win is that we grinded it out," Spirk said. "We did not play very well in that first half so to come back and play with the energy at home against Muhlenberg was extra special. We didn't talk about it but I knew the kids were pressing a little bit because they wanted to get it for me but for us, it is great going into the conference opener at Elizabethtown with a win."
Moravian, now 5-2 overall this winter, had three players in double figures led by senior forward Nadine Ewald, who had her sixth straight double-double and 28th of her career with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Ewald is now three points shy of joining Moravian's 1,000-point club, and her 742 career rebounds rank seventh in program history. Senior guard Maddie Capuano tossed in 13 points with eight coming in the final 3:07 as she gave the Hounds their first lead since the first quarter, and Capuano had four rebounds while Ewald added a pair of blocked shots. Freshman guard Morgan Amy scored a career high 11 points to go with two assists and two steals.
Freshman guard Madison Amy contributed seven points including a three-pointer to break the final tie and a free throw to seal the win in the final 36 seconds, and she had four assists while sophomore guard Kayla Yoegel added five points, three rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Senior guard Karlie Brogan had eight rebounds, five assists and two points while freshman guard Jackie Kelly had two points. Junior forward Jordan Beneducci grabbed four rebounds for Moravian while senior guard Brooke Santy added two boards.
"At halftime I said that we need the seniors to step up," commented Spirk. "Karlie was steady the whole way, and Maddie hit shots down the stretch. Nadine was just tough. I thought she controlled the boards, and scored well. I'm a little disappointed because it would have been nice for her to get a few more points to get her 1,000 tonight too. The leadership that the seniors showed is what you want."
The Greyhounds struggled shooting the ball in the opening 20 minutes, making just 8-of-35 field goal attempts (22.9 percent) and 2-of-11 three-pointers. The Hounds heated up in the second half, and especially in the fourth quarter when the Blue and Grey tossed in 20 points, by making 14-of-29 field goals attempts and 6-of-9 three-pointers in the final 20 minutes of action.
Ewald opened the scoring in the contest with a jumper, and a jumper in the lane by Yoegel had Moravian leading 6-4 three minutes into action. The Mules scored five straight points before Madison Amy connected on a three-pointer at the 3:09 mark as the Hounds moved ahead 11-9. However, Muhlenberg scored the final seven points of the quarter to lead 16-11 after 10 minutes of action.
Capuano connected on a lay-up 45 seconds into the second quarter and neither team scored again until Ewald sank a free throw with 4:51 before the intermission. The Mules netted their first points of the quarter with 4:44 on the clock, and Muhlenberg headed to the locker room with a 28-19 edge.
The Mules would score the first four points of the third quarter to lead 32-19 before a three-pointer by Morgan Amy. Muhlenberg answered with a three-pointer to take a 35-22 edge with 8:14 left in the period. Down 40-29, Morgan Amy connected on another three-pointer, Kelly hit a jumper and Ewald scored on a lay-up to close the gap to four points at 40-36; however, the Mules hit a buzzer beating three-pointer to lead 45-38 after 30 minutes of action.
Scoring was hard to come by again early in the fourth quarter with a free throw from Ewald at 8:28 and a three-pointer by Morgan Amy at 6:33 as the only points in the first four minutes of the period as Moravian cut the deficit to three points. Ewald made it a one-point game at the 5:49 mark before the Mules netted a three-pointer for their first points of the period 20 seconds later. Morgan Amy sank two free throws at 5:08 while Capuano gave the Greyhounds the lead back, 49-48, two minutes later with a three-pointer.
Muhlenberg tied the game at 49-49 and then again at 51-51 before a reverse lay-up and a free throw to convert the three-point play by Capuano had the Hounds leading 54-51 with 1:22 on the clock. Once again, the Mules hit a three-pointer to tie the contest at 54-54 with just over a minute to play. Madison Amy beat the shot clock with a three-pointer with 36.7 seconds remaining to give the Greyhounds the lead for good, and she would add a free throw with 8.7 seconds left to seal the milestone victory.
Moravian is scheduled to return to action on Saturday, December 7 when the squad heads to Elizabethtown College to begin the 2019-20 Landmark Conference season with a 4:00 p.m. tip-off after the men's game of the doubleheader.