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Juniata men's hoops sinks Merchant Marine on turnovers, foul shooting

(Posted January 18, 2008)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A three-point barrage to open the second half, stingy defense, and clutch free-throw shooting conspired to lead Juniata College to an 83-61 win over the United States Merchant Marine Academy, in Landmark Conference men's basketball Friday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center in Huntingdon, Pa.

The Eagles (10-5, 3-1 Landmark), who shot a pedestrian 42.9% (15-35) in the first half, found their shooting touch at halftime and drained three three-pointers in the first two minutes of the second half. That was backed up with a Brian Cannon (Fallston, Md./Fallston) jumper, expanding Juniata's three-point halftime lead to 45-36 at the 17:33 mark of the second half.

After the Juniata lead eventually reached 10 points at the 16:03 mark following a pair of Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) foul shots, USMMA (6-8, 2-2 Landmark) began clawing its way back into the game. The Mariners successfully cut the Juniata lead down to just four points, 49-45 with 14:04 to play, but that was as close as the game would get.



The USMMA shooters went cold and the Juniata defense forced five turnovers in a little over five-and-a-half minutes, allowing to the Eagles to go on an 18-0 run that left Juniata with a commanding 67-45 lead with 7:44 remaining. The Mariners finally responded to the Eagle onslaught with Tom Izzo's jumper with 6:13 to play - exactly 8:36 after their previous bucket, a layup by Matt Hueber at the 14:45 mark.

Juniata shot 6-of-10 from the field during that stretch, including treys by Garrett Bull (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) and Eric Mueseler (Latrobe, Pa./Latrobe).

Juniata finished the game shooting 50.9% (29-57) from the field, and an equally impressive 16-of-20 at the stripe. The Eagles held USMMA to just 43.4% (23-53) shooting from the field; the Mariners did not aid their cause with a 6-of-14 performance at the free-throw line during the game.

Defensively, Juniata collected 23 points off 20 Mariner turnovers, while committing just 10 turnovers themselves.

Five Eagles posted double-digit scoring totals, led by Berkey's 15 points. Cannon tallied 14 points, while Kyle Opitz (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine Richland), who had two of the treys to open the second half, finished with 12 points, as did Mueseler. Bull rounded out Juniata's top scorers with 11 points.

The Mariners were paced by Pat Grace with 12 points, with Hueber logging the double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Juniata will return to action on Saturday afternoon, when the Eagles host Drew University in the second game of a basketball doubleheader with Eagle women's basketball team. Tip-off will be at approximately 4:00 p.m.

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