Juniata MBB falls to Susquehanna, but earns rematch in Landmark tournament semis
(Posted February 23, 2008)
SELINSGROVE, Pa. -- The Juniata College men's basketball team will be hoping the third time's the charm in the 2007-08 edition of its long-time rivalry with Susquehanna University. The Eagles went without a field goal over the final six minutes of the second half, allowing a lead over Susquehanna to slip away before eventually falling to the Crusaders 60-55 on Saturday night at Houts Gymnasium in Selinsgrove, Pa. However Juniata (16-9, 9-5 Landmark) will see Susquehanna again on the same floor in just four days' time, as the fourth-seeded Eagles and top-seeded Crusaders will square off in a Landmark Conference Men's Basketball Tournament semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7:00 p.m. Juniata will be looking for its first win over the Crusaders this season in Wednesday's matchup; Susquehanna (13-11, 10-4 Landmark) defeated the Eagles 75-71 in the Landmark opener back on December 1, 2007. Wednesday's Landmark tournament semifinal will also mark the first back-to-back conference tournament appearances by Juniata since the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons. Juniata trailed 26-21 at the half, and Susquehanna widened the lead to 31-25 by the 17:15 mark of the second half on a three-pointer by Matt McDevitt. After a scoreless two minutes, Juniata's Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) responded with a layup, launching an 11-3 Juniata run that left the Eagles with a 38-34 lead with 11:21 remaining. The Eagles' advantage reached seven points, 45-38, following a Garrett Bull (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) trey and a Brian Cannon (Fallston, Md./Fallston) layup. After Susquehanna's McDevitt and Juniata's Kyle Opitz (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine Richland) traded buckets over the next two minutes of play, the Crusaders' Brad Okonak knocked down one his three three-pointers on the night to cut the Juniata lead to 47-43 with 6:44 on the clock. Eric Mueseler's (Latrobe, Pa./Latrobe) layup just 26 seconds later stretched the Juniata lead back to six points, 49-43. That would be Juniata's last field goal until the final seconds of the game. Juniata was held to just three points over the next six minutes and 17 seconds - a foul shot by Mueseler with 2:07 remaining, and a pair of free throws by Opitz with 38 seconds on the clock. Susquehanna outscored the Eagles 17-6 during that stretch, with a Bull three-pointer as time expired ending Juniata's shooting drought. Cannon led the Eagles with 19 points, however the rest of the starting lineup combined for just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the field. Bull tallied 11 points and a team-high six rebounds off the bench, with Berkey chipping in with 10. Susquehanna had four players score in double-figures, led by McDevitt with 15 points. Kevin Cuff logged 12 points, while Joel Patch and Brad Okonak had 11 apiece. -30-
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