COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – Sophomore Maya Kornfeld buried a pair of clutch free throws with 4.3 seconds left to complete the Ursinus College women's basketball team's comeback victory over Muhlenberg, 53-52, in Centennial Conference action at Helfferich Hall.
The Bears (16-8, 13-6) capped off Senior Night in thrilling fashion by picking up their first win over the Mules since 2008, snapping a 21-game skid in the series. Ursinus trailed by seven with just over three minutes to play but finished the game on a 9-1 run to lock up the fourth seed in the CC tournament, where the Bears will host either Muhlenberg or Dickinson in the first-round game on Tuesday night.
With over five seconds on the clock, the Bears had the ball with a chance to take the lead down by a point at 52-51. On the inbounds pass in the frontcourt, Kornfeld earned a pair of free throws after being fouled near the perimeter as she gained momentum to attack the Mules' defense. Kornfeld, an 80-percent foul shooter, stepped to the line with confidence and swished both to give the Bears a one-point cushion.
The Mules sprinted up the court for a potential game-winning bucket but lost the ball driving into the paint.
It was tough sledding for the Bears in the first half as Muhlenberg's zone defense limited the Bears to tough perimeter shots and just two paint points. The Bears were down as many as 14 points late in the second quarter, but a quick 7-0 spurt before the half cut the deficit to seven at 33-26.
Out of intermission, Ursinus increased its tempo, worked the ball into the paint and used junior workhorse Lydia Konstanzer's jumpers as the focal point of the offense. Konstanzer poured in 23 points and snatched down 14 rebounds on the way to her 33rd career double-double which ties Lindsey Teuber (2009-12) for the top mark in program history.
The Bears enforced their will on the glass, outrebounding the visitors, 46-31. Ursinus limited Muhlenberg to just five second-chance points.
With 5:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bears faced a 50-42 margin, but proceeded to shut out Muhlenberg over the four minutes of play. The Mules (15-9, 11-8) generated solid looks but couldn't quite finish them off.
The Bears got off to a slow final frame, scoring their first basket with 4:22 left courtesy of Konstanzer. Konstanzer went on to score nine of the Bears' 11 points in the period; the only others were Kornfeld's clutch freebies. To cut the game to 52-49, Kornfeld found Konstanzer lurking underneath. The duo of Kornfeld to Konstanzer paired up again to get within 52-51 with a minute to go. Kornfeld handed out a game-high five assists.
A Bears offensive foul with 40 seconds left gave the Mules a chance to add to their lead, but a layup by Sara Dilly rimmed out with eight seconds to go and set up Ursinus' game-winning possession.
Early on, the Mules started the game on an 8-3 run. Ursinus responded to tie the game 8-8 after Kornfeld took a rebound the other way, finishing with a fast break layup. A quick Muhlenberg 5-0 spurt was matched by the Bears who evened the game 15-15 when freshman Gabby Downs drained a deep trey from the left wing.
Muhlenberg's Ny Thomas added a reverse layup to close a strong 11-point first quarter to go up 19-15. Thomas finished the game with 16 points.
A sprint by the Mules increased their lead to as many as 14 points (33-19) in the second quarter but the Bears sparked a 16-2 run bridging halftime to close within 35-33 when Konstanzer fed Downs on the fast break. Downs recorded her first career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Sophomore Aliyah Stephens' put-back tied the contest at 35 with 6:32 to play in the third quarter.
Ursinus went 18-of-54 (33.3%) from the field, 5-of-21 (23.8%) from 3-point territory, and 12-of-14 (85.7%) from the free-throw line.
Muhlenberg shot 19-of-58 (32.8%) overall, 6-of-23 (26.1%) from beyond the arc, and 8-of-12 (66.7%) from the charity stripe. The Mules committed 10 turnovers to the Bears' 16.
Ursinus wraps up the regular season at Johns Hopkins on Saturday at 5 p.m.