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Juniata Men Drop Tough Overtime Game

(Posted February 4, 2006)

Tommy McConnell scored 14 points and passed out seven assists for the Eagles in a conference game against Widener.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. ? For the third time this season the Juniata College men?s basketball team had a home conference game extend to overtime, but for the second-consecutive time the Eagles were unable to come away from the extra session with a victory as the Blue and Gold fell to visiting Widener University 74-67 in Commonwealth Conference action in Huntingdon Saturday afternoon.

Juniata overcame an 11-point Widener lead in the second half but could not hang on to a late lead in regulation as they dropped to 10-11 overall and 5-5 in conference play. Widener raised its record to 17-3 on the season and 7-3 in conference.

The Eagles took a late lead of the second half on a Tommy McConnell (Bishop Guilfoyle/Hollidaysburg) three with 2:26 remaining in the game. After each team sank a pair of free throws on the ensuing possessions, Widener knotted the score at 58 with a Malcolm Thomas jumper with 1:17 left. After failing to convert on the offensive end, Juniata forced a Widener turnover with 31 seconds setting up a chance at the win. But Widener?s defense forced a contested Travis Boyd (Juniata Valley/Barree) three pointer that did not go, sending the game to overtime.

Widener seized control at the start of overtime as a pair of Kris Clarkson dunks and a jumper from Thomas helped the visitors build an eight-point lead. Juniata answered back, pulling to within four after an Aaron Chamberlain (Tussey Mountain/Wood) three with 1:18 remaining. After forcing a tough Widener shot on the next possession the Pioneers claimed the offensive rebound, forcing Juniata to send the visitors to the line. Nyere Miller then knocked down eight-straight free throws to seal the win, despite a late three from Boyd that brought Juniata to within three points with 17 seconds left.

The game was tight throughout as Widener?s 11-point cushion in the second half was the largest of the game. The Eagles led by as many as five in the first half, taking a five-point cushion on a Boyd three with 4:59 remaining. Widener then closed the half on a 12-3 run to take a four-point edge into halftime.

Juniata edged back in front briefly in the second half, after a basket from McConnell and another Boyd triple. Widener countered, slowly pulling back in front and extending the lead to 11 after a pair of threes from Essien Ford.

McConnell and Boyd each finished with a team-high 14 points for the Eagles, while Chamberlain added 11. McConnell also passed out seven assists and Boyd paced the team with seven rebounds.

Widener had four players in double figures with Ford leading all players with 17. Clarkson and Thomas both added 14, with Brooke Tidswell contributing 10. Thomas led the Pioneers with seven boards while Brandon Blakey dished out five assists.

The Eagles return to action Wednesday night with a home conference tilt against Elizabethtown.

WIDENER (74): Blakey 1 0-0 2, Ford 6 1-2 17, Clarkson 6 2-4 14, Thomas 6 0-1 14, Michael 0 2-2 2, Tidswell 4 2-2 10, Haas 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 8-8 8, Smith 3 1-2 7. Totals ? 26 16-21 74.

JUNIATA (67): Jasiota 2 3-4 7, Boyd 5 0-0 14, McConnell 6 1-2 14, Cannon 2 0-0 4, Hager 3 0-0 8, Byer 0 1-2 1, Ferko 3 0-0 6, Opitz 0 0-0 0, Chamberlain 4 0-0 11, Holloway 1 0-0 2. Totals ? 26 5-8 67.

Halftime: Widener 27-23. 3-point goals: Widener 6 (Ford 4, Thomas 2); Juniata 10 (Boyd 4, Chamberlain 3, Hager 2, McConnell). Assists: Widener 15 (Blakey 5); Juniata 13 (McConnell 7). Rebounds: Widener 36 (Thomas 7); Juniata 34 (Boyd 7).

Records: Widener (17-3, 7-3 Commonwealth), Juniata (10-11, 5-5 Commonwealth).

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