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Eagles Top Messiah In Defensive Battle

(Posted January 31, 2006)

Nick Hager scored 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting to help Juniata claim a big conference road victory over Messiah.

Juniata 55, Messiah 52

Grantham, Pa. ? The Juniata College men?s basketball team snapped a two-game losing streak and earned a critical Commonwealth Conference win by topping Messiah College 55-52 in a defensive battle in Grantham Tuesday night.

Nick Hager (Franklin/Franklin) led all players with 16 points as the Eagles improved to 10-10 overall and 5-4 in the Commonwealth Conference. Messiah dropped to 13-7 on the season and 6-3 in conference play. Two of the Falcons? three losses have come at the hands of Juniata.

The Eagles matched their lowest offensive output of the season, but were still able to claim the win by turning in one of their finest defensive efforts of the year. Juniata limited the Falcons to just 35 percent shooting in the game and forced 17 Messiah turnovers to hold them to their lowest point total of the season.

After struggling through a rough shooting effort this past weekend, the Eagles connected on 50-percent of their three-point attempts in the game. Hager was 4-of-6 from long range en route to his 16 points. Travis Boyd (Juniata Valley/Barree) drilled a pair of triples in the second half to help the Eagles hold off the home team.

Juniata led by just a point at intermission as neither team was able to bring much offense in the first 20 minutes. The teams combined to shoot 21-of-50 in the first half as the Eagles led 23-22 in the first half.

The Eagles heated up in the second half, shooting 43 percent from the field and also did damage at the foul line, making 10-of-15 free attempts to claim the victory.

Hager was the only Juniata player in double figures as he was one point shy of his season high. Boyd and Brian Cannon (Fallston/Fallston, Md.) each added nine points for the Eagles, and Cannon grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Tommy McConnell (Bishop Guilfoyle/Hollidaysburg) passed out five assists to direct the offense.

Quinn McCullough paced the Falcons with 13 points, while Zach Wiernicki scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Jared Yoder matched him with eight boards, with Darryl Brown contributing three assists off the bench.

Juniata looks to keep its conference success going on Saturday when the Eagles host Widener.

JUNIATA (55): Jasiota 2 1-1 5, Boyd 3 1-2 9, McConnell 1 2-2 4, Cannon 3 3-4 9, Hager 6 0-0 16, Byer 0 0-0 0, Ferko 1 0-0 2, Opitz 0 2-2 2, Chamberlain 1 5-8 8, Holloway 0 0-0 0. Totals ? 17 14-19 55.

MESSIAH (52): McCullough 3 4-4 13, Snyder 3 0-1 7, Wiernicki 5 2-2 12, Henninger 2 0-0 5, Yoder 4 0-1 8, Miller 0 0-0 0, Witmer 0 0-0 0, Brown 2 0-0 4, King 1 0-0 3. Totals ? 20 6-8 52.

Halftime: Juniata 23-22. 3-point goals: Juniata 7 (Hager 4, Boyd 2, Chamberlain); Messiah 6 (McCullough 3, Snyder, Henninger, King). Assists: 11 (McConnell 5); Messiah 12 (Brown 3). Rebounds: Juniata 29 (Cannon 6); Messiah 38 (Wiernicki, Yoder 8).

Records: Juniata (10-10, 5-4 Commonwealth), Messiah (13-7, 6-3 Commonwealth).

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