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Eagles Unable To Overcome Nationally Ranked Foe

(Posted January 17, 2006)

Katie O'Brien scored 22 points and led Juniata in rebounds and assists in a Commonwealth game against 13th-ranked Messiah.

Messiah 89, Juniata 69

HUNTINGDON, Pa. ? The Juniata College women?s basketball team hung with the 13th-ranked team in Division III for much of the game, but a sparkling shooting effort for visiting Messiah College was too much for the Eagles to overcome as they dropped an 89-69 Commonwealth decision Tuesday night in Memorial Gym.

Juniata finished with three players in double figures, but the visiting Falcons shot a robust 60 percent from the field in the game and 67 percent from three-point range to drop Juniata to 8-8 overall and 1-4 in conference play. Messiah remained unbeaten in conference action with a 5-0 mark and is now 15-1 overall.

The Eagles remained in position to pull the upset early in the second half as they opened the second stanza on a 6-0 run to pull within a point with 17:39 showing on the clock. Katie O?Brien (South Western/Hanover) scored four of her team-high 22 points during the run, which left Juniata trailing just 40-39.

But from that point on it seemed as though the visitors barely missed as they exploded on a 16-2 run over the next six minutes to pull in front by a comfortable 17 point margin. A three from Kristen Kirk (Newport/Newport) halted the run and an Ali Meckey (Bishop Carroll/Ebensburg) three would cut the lead to 13 with 8:30 remaining. Juniata would get within 13 points on three more occasions, but that was as close as they got for the remainder of the half.

Messiah was 16-of-24 for 66 percent shooting from the floor in the second half. The Falcons were also a perfect 17-of-17 from the foul line in the final 20 minutes and went 21-of-21 from the line for the game. Juniata did not help its cause by committing 27 turnovers in the game, including four turnovers during Messiah?s decisive second-half run.

Juniata did show great resiliency in the first half after Messiah put together a 14-4 run over a five minute stretch to take a 16-point lead. The Eagles clawed back, getting five late points from Jess Winemiller (Dallastown/York) to go into halftime trailing by just seven.

O?Brien?s 22-point effort marked the third time in the last five games she has topped 20 points, a stretch in which she is averaging 17.4 points per contest. O?Brien also led the team with six rebounds and had a team-best four assists. Meckey finished with 14 points in the game, while Winemiller added 13.

Messiah?s Lauren Schurr led all players with 23 points as she went 8-of-11 from the field and 7-of-10 from three-point land in the game. Sarah Ringer scored 18 points while grabbing five rebounds and Eli Cook and Christa Wenrich added 15 and 14 respectively. Cook and Amy Reed both had four assists to lead the team, and Ashley Brooks grabbed a team-high six rebounds.

Juniata will be back in action on Saturday with a conference game at Albright.

MESSIAH (89): Schurr 8 0-0 23, Reed 3 2-2 8, Cook 5 4-4 15, Avery 0 0-0 0, Ringer 7 4-4 18, Kalb 1 0-0 2, Tygert 0 0-0 0, Wenrich 4 6-6 14, Brooks 2 5-5 9, Groves 0 0-0 0, Sweitzer 0 0-0 0. Totals ? 30 21-21 89.

JUNIATA (69): Meckey 5 2-2 14, Walsh 0 0-0 0, Kirk 2 0-0 5, Winemiller 6 0-1 13, O?Brien 9 4-4 22, Callas 0 1-2 1, Werner 1 2-2 4, Ashcraft 1 0-0 2, Snoby 4 0-0 8. Totals ? 28 9-11 69.

Halftime: Messiah 38-31. 3-point goals: Messiah 8 (Schurr 7, Cook); Juniata 4 (Meckey 2, Kirk, Winemiller). Assists: Messiah 17 (Reed, Cook 4); Juniata 14 (O?Brien 4). Rebounds: Messiah 24 (Brooks 6); Juniata 31 (O?Brien 6).
Records: Messiah (15-1, 5-0 Commonwealth), Juniata (8-8, 1-4 Commonwealth).

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.