PREVIEW: Juniata faces Misericordia in ECAC South tournament
(Posted March 4, 2008)
HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A capsule look at the Juniata College vs. Misericordia University matchup in the ECAC Division III South Men's Basketball Championship.
MBB: #6 Juniata College (17-10) at #3 Misericordia University (18-9)
Wednesday, March 5, 2008 - 7:00 p.m. - Dallas, Pa. (Anderson Sports and Health Center)
Juniata College will continue its season Wednesday night when it faces Misericordia University in a quarterfinal game of the 2008 ECAC Division III South Men's Basketball Championship. The Eagles are the no. 6 seed in the ECAC South tourney, while the Cougars are the no. 3 seed.
This will be Juniata's second consecutive appearance in the ECAC South Tournament. The fourth-seeded Eagles reached the semifinal round of last season's ECAC South tourney with a 72-62 win over Bethany (W.Va.) College in the quarterfinals, before losing to Penn State Behrend 77-69 in a semifinal matchup. Under seventh-year Head Coach Greg Curley, Juniata has a 3-3 record in post-season games.
A win over Misericordia would set up a rematch for the Eagles; the other quarterfinal in Juniata's half of the ECAC South bracket pits no. 7 seed Grove City College (17-10) at no. 2 seed Carnegie Mellon University (16-9), both of whom defeated the Eagles during the regular season.
In its last outing, Juniata dropped a 64-57 decision to the University of Scranton in the championship game of the Landmark Conference Men's Basketball Tournament. Seniors Kyle Opitz (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine Richland) and Brian Cannon (Fallston, Md./Fallston) scored 18 and 17 points respectively for the Eagles, while Cannon and Justin Baker (Nanty Glo, Pa./Bishop Carroll) each hauled down eight rebounds. The Eagles shot 40.6% (13-32) from the field in the first half while holding the Royals to just 30.0% and held a 30-26 lead at the break, but tailed off to shoot just 33.3% (9-27) from the floor after the intermission.
Juniata is 3-3 all-time against Misericordia, with the last meeting between the two schools coming back in 1996-97, when the Cougars downed Juniata, 62-70, in Dallas, Pa. The two schools have had three common opponents this season: Misericordia lost at Scranton, 53-46, on Nov. 20; defeated Lancaster Bible 88-52 in Dallas on Nov. 29; and defeated Susquehanna 73-68 on Dec. 6 in Selinsgrove. The Eagles downed Lancaster Bible 80-69 in Juniata's season opener in Huntingdon; and went 1-2 against both Scranton and Susquehanna this season.
Cannon, a First team All-Landmark selection, paces the Eagles offensively with 18.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg. He is second in the league and 90th in Division III in scoring, and fifth in the conference in rebounding. He is averaging 22.0 ppg over his last four games, and has shot .507 (35-69) during that span. Cannon ranks fifth among Juniata's top ten career leaders in total points with 1,365, and with 563 rebounds he is only the fifth player in school history to surpass both the 1,000-point and 500-rebound marks. His 495 points this season places him fourth among Juniata's single season leaders.
Senior Kyle Opitz (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine Richland) is also averaging in double figures with 14.5 ppg; he is coming off an 18-point performance against Scranton that ended a three-game stretch where he had been held in single digits. He is Juniata's most lethal three-point option on a team loaded with outside shooting talent; his 66 treys this season ranks as the fourth-best single season mark in school history, and his ranks 118th in Division in three-point field goals per game with 2.4, including four three-pointers in the loss to Scranton. Opitz has shot .500-or-better from the field in nine of Juniata's last 13 games.
Senior teammate Brent Ferko (Sarver, Pa./Freeport) is contributing 9.5 ppg with 3.9 rpg, and has logged 10 double-digit scoring performances this season. Juniata's fourth senior, Garrett Bull (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) has scored 10-or-more in two of the past three games (11 vs. Susquehanna on 2/23, 14 vs. Susquehanna on 2/27), and four of his five double-figure scoring efforts have come over the last seven games. However Bull is coming off an 0-of-2 performance in the Landmark title game against Scranton, one of only five scoreless games he has recorded this season.
Sophomore Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) has also found his shooting touch over the last three contests, averaging 10.3 ppg and shooting .500 (12-24) over the last three games. Overall this season, he is averaging 8.0 ppg with 3.4 rpg.
Juniors Eric Mueseler (Latrobe, Pa./Latrobe) and David Thompson (Altoona, Pa./Altoona) have also shown themselves capable of making big offensive contributions when needed. Mueseler is averaging 5.8 ppg this season with six double-digit efforts, while Thompson has logged 5.4 ppg in 2007-08 and also has six 10-point or more games.
Junior starter Justin Baker (Nanty Glo, Pa./Bishop Carroll) has been Juniata's top blocker this season with 28, while adding 3.0 ppg and 4.0 rpg. He matched his season-high with four blocks in the Landmark championship game against Scranton.
Misericordia had won five in a row prior to its 82-65 loss to Immaculata in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference tournament semifinals - a team it had beaten 73-65 on Senior Night just five days earlier. The Cougars are 11-2 on their home floor this season; their only losses were a 56-53 loss to DeSales on Nov. 26, and a 65-57 defeat at the hands of Alvernia College on Jan. 21.
The Cougars are led by Vinny Baumunk with 15.3 ppg and Dom Del Prete with 11.1 ppg. Matt Hornak sits atop the Cougars' list of rebounders with 6.7 rpg. Baumunk, an All-PAC selection, ranks 59th in Division III in field goal percentage, shooting .554 from the field on the NCAA's March 2 statistical report. Ryan Roa has dished out 120 assists this season (4.4 per game, 77th in Division III), with a 2.21 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Overall, the Cougars rank ninth in the nation in field goal percentage defense, allowing just .388 shooting from the floor, and are sixth in scoring defense at 58.5 points allowed per game. Misericordia is guided by fourth-year head coach Trevor Woodruff, who was named the PAC's 2007-08 Coach of the Year.
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