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Ladies Hoops Keep Postseason Hopes Alive

(Posted February 3, 2007)

Kelly Ashcraft scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help Juniata hold off Widener and earn a conference win.

CHESTER, Pa. - The Juniata College women\'s basketball team made the plays it needed to make down the stretch as the Eagles posted a 65-61 win over Commonwealth Conference opponent Widener University Saturday afternoon in Chester. Kelly Ashcraft (State College/Bellefonte) and Jess Winemiller (Dallastown/York) scored 15 and 14 points respectively for Juniata (13-8, 4-6 Commonwealth) which, with the victory, insured themselves of back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the 1991-92 and 92-93 seasons. The Eagles never trailed in the second half, and led by as many as 10 before a 9-1 run from the home team pulled Widener to within two with 6:33 remaining. A basket from Ashcraft extended Juniata\'s lead to four and the teams traded baskets and free throws over the next five minutes with Widener eventually pulling within one at 60-59 with 1:46 left. Juniata\'s Claudia McDowell (Juniata Valley/Alexandria) answered with her second three pointer of the game on the next possession. Widener pulled back within two on a Stephanie Bixby hoop with 1:08 remaining, but the Pride\'s go-ahead look at a three was no good, and then McDowell blocked a last-second attempt at a tie to seal the win. Bixby scored a game high 16 points for Widener (8-13, 2-8 Commonwealth) which shot 44 percent from the field for the game, but were hampered by 23 turnovers. The first half saw Juniata jump out to an early nine-point edge on a lay-up from Winemiller, but Widener rallied back quickly, eventually taking the lead at 17-15 with 9:27 remaining in the half. The Eagles eventually rallied, and took a four-point edge into halftime. Juniata slowly built its big edge in the second half, as a 6-0 run started by a Winemiller basket sparked the team to its 10-point margin. Ashcraft added a team-high nine rebounds to go with her team-high 15 points. Winemiller shot 6-of-11 from the field while grabbing six rebounds. McDowell finished with nine points and paced the team with six assists and four steals. Ali Meckey (Bishop Carroll/Ebensburg) matched Ashcraft with nine rebounds to go along with her six points and five assists. Bixby was an impressive 7-12 from the field while also leading Widener with eight rebounds. Barbara Fleming was also in double figures with 10 points, while Beth Dessart Mager added nine. Becky Tyler led the team with five assists. Juniata\'s victory keeps the team in the running for a spot in the Commonwealth postseason. Juniata entered the day in a three-way tie for the fifth position, where the top four earn a berth in the postseason. The Eagles will be in action again Tuesday when they travel to face conference foe Elizabethtown College. ###

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