Alexandra Chili and Spencer Liddic have a lot in common.
The Muhlenberg senior basketball players are two of the best in the Centennial Conference and Division III.
Chili, a guard on the women’s team, leads the league in scoring with 17.2 points per game, and is a solid outside shooting threat with 2.8 3-pointers per game, which also tops the league. A native of Rockville, Md., she needs only 39 points to become the Centennial Conference’s all-time leading scorer, and ranks ninth in Division III history with 323 career 3-point field goals.
Liddic, a forward from Clarks Summit, Pa., ranks second in the conference in scoring with 18.2 points per game, and dominates the boards, leading the league with 11.2 rebounds per game. He is the conference’s all-time leader in rebounds with 992, and is second on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,676 points.
But, perhaps, more importantly, Chili and Liddic are also stars in the classroom. The duo, who each garnered respective Lehigh Valley Small College Player of the Year honors last week, were named to the Capital One Academic All-America second team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America on Monday.
Liddic, a first-team selection last season, is double majoring in business administration and finance carries a 3.86 GPA, while Chili has compiled a 3.82 GPA to earn the first Academic All-American honors for a Muhlenberg women’s basketball player in 30 years. The only other Division III school to have both a male and female on the Academic All-American teams was the University of Chicago.
“Muhlenberg student-athletes are not only athletes, but excel in the classroom,” Liddic said. “If you look at Alex and me, we represent the school pretty well in that aspect.”
“[The honor] speaks to the kind of institution Muhlenberg is — it is a great campus and community,” Chili said. “We’re proud to represent our school because we’ve had such great experiences on and off the court.”
But while Liddic and Chili have similar résumés, they admire the differences in one another’s games and are sometimes even inspired by them.
“Over the years, I’ve tried to expand my game to become more of an outside shooting threat,” Liddic said. “This past year, I went to Alex, who is the best shooter – men’s or women’s – in our conference to get some advice. She told me to get my shot off faster. It was great doing reps with her in practice and seeing the kind of workout she goes through.”
“I helped him a little bit with his stance and told him to hold his follow-through, but he had pretty good shooting form anyway so I’m not sure I did too much,” Chili said.
Liddic is not just impressed by Chili’s shooting, but her unselfish play.
“She’s not only a scorer, but a great teammate,” Liddic said. “She has the most assists on the team as well.”
Chili appreciates how Liddic always keeps his composure on the court despite always being guarded by the opponent’s biggest, strongest defender.
“He doesn’t let things bother him even though he’s getting hammered inside or getting fouled every play,” Chili said. “You look at his face and it doesn’t show. He’s a great leader in that sense. He makes everyone around him play better.”
Liddic’s contributions — and a little inspiration from the women’s run to the NCAA Division III tournament round of 16 last year — have propelled the men’s squad into the Centennial Conference Championship after not making the tournament in 2011.
“It made us really hungry in the offseason seeing how well the women’s team did,” Liddic said. “It made us work hard and set our goals to make it to the conference tournament, and we’re fortunate to be in that position.”
The men’s team is 17-8 — the program’s most wins in 10 years — and is the No. 2 seed in the CC playoffs. They will play No. 3 Dickinson in the semifinals on Feb. 24.
“The guys saw how successful we were last year and it really pushed them to go a little harder this year,” Chili said. “I’m excited they made it to conference championships. They have been a good team throughout my four years, but I think this year they have more potential than I’ve seen in past years.”
The women’s squad reached the CC playoffs for the seventh consecutive year after posting a 20 wins for the fifth consecutive season. They are seeded third, and will play No. 2 Franklin & Marshall in Friday’s semifinal action.
The women have won two of the last three CC Tournament titles (2009, 2011) – something the men’s program has not accomplished since claiming the championship in 1995.
“It’s been an amazing career, and something I never imagined coming out of high school,” Liddic said. “At the same time, I’ve never been part of a team that has won the conference tournament so that is something I want to get done this year.”