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Juniata's Women's Basketball Team Going to Commonwealth Playoffs

(Posted February 25, 2002)

Huntingdon, PA - The Juniata College women's basketball team (12-13) has earned a spot in the 2002 Commonwealth Conference playoffs to be contested this week. The Eagles finished with an 8-6 Commonwealth mark and took fourth place in the loop and will now take on Lebanon Valley College (22-3, 13-1), which earned the top spot in the Commonwealth, on the road on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tip-off. This year's appearance in the post-season, marks the third consecutive year Juniata's women have continued their play into late February.

THE COMMONWEALTH PLAYOFFS: The Commonwealth post-season provides for a field of four teams. The single-elimination tourney begins, with the semifinals, on the Wednesday following the conclusion of the regular season. The Commonwealth semifinal and final games are hosted at the site of the higher-seeded team. The final round of the championship is played on the Saturday following the end of the regular season. The final game on Saturday may either be played in the afternoon or in the evening. The winner of the Commonwealth will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III playoffs.

THIS YEAR'S CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT: The top four teams, in order of first to fourth, in the Commonwealth this winter were Lebanon Valley, Messiah, Moravian and Juniata. As a result, the Eagles will travel to Annville to do battle with Lebanon Valley, that contest is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip. In the other half of Commonwealth action, Moravian will travel to Grantham to tangle with Messiah. That game will also begin at 7 p.m.

TICKET PRICES: The price for admission at Lebanon Valley on Wednesday evening will be $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and $2.00 for students with identification.

THE 2000-01 COMMONWEALTH CHAMPIONSHIP: After defeating Juniata in the first round, 66-52, Commonwealth regular-season champion Messiah was knocked off visiting Elizabethtown, 72-59. Messiah ended up receiving an at-large bid into the NCAA Division III playoffs where it became the national runner-up.

JUNIATA VS. LEBANON VALLEY: Lebanon Valley owns a 16-8 lead in the 24-game series between the two institutions. The first time they faced each other was in the 1983-84 campaign. The Dutchwomen took both match-ups between the two schools during the 2001-02 regular-season. In the first meeting on January 23, Lebanon Valley downed host Juniata, 67-57. In the second outing of the two squads, the host Dutchwomen were able to come from behind and pull out a thrilling 57-56 victory.

THE EAGLES VERSUS THE 2001-02 TOURNAMENT FIELD: The Eagles had all six of their Commonwealth losses occur in games with the three teams that finished in front of them in the conference standings (Lebanon Valley, Messiah and Moravian). Juniata lost by no worse than 15 points in any of the tilts and fell by single digits in three of the six outings.

THE COLLEGE HILL HOOPS SQUAD CONFERENCE PLAYOFF HISTORY: Juniata owns an 8-14 mark in post-season history. In 2000-01, the blue and gold cagers fell at Messiah in the first round, 66-52. The last win for the College Hill hoopers came in the 1991-92 season, when they downed Scranton, 71-65, in the opening session of conference action.

COACH BUXBAUM MAKES IT THREE: In her fourth season in charge of the Eagle fortunes, Amy Buxbaum has the Eagle back in the conference post-season for the third consecutive year. Buxbaum owns a 48-51 record during her four seasons on College Hill. She currently ranks second in Juniata women's basketball history in coaching victories. Nancy Latimore had 101 triumphs during her nine-year tenure.

THE 2001-02 EAGLE LEADERS: The Eagles have a trio of highly-experienced seniors hoping to bring the Commonwealth championship home to Juniata. Senior forward Brandy Preslovich (Bald Eagle Area/Moshannon) leads the Eagles in scoring average, dropping in 16.4 points a contest, which is good for second in the Commonwealth. She also paces Juniata by pulling down 7.5 rebounds a game (ranks sixth in the conference). Senior guard Kelli Young (United/Vintondale) is dishing out a conference best 5.2 assists per outing, while topping the conference in steals with 3.4 a contest. Senior guard Kelly Grove (Penns Valley/Spring Mills) is second on the squad in scoring (9.1 ppg.) and paces the club in three-pointers with 38.

CLIMBING THE CAREER CHARTS: Heading into the Commonwealth post-season, a number of Juniata performers are among the career leaders in the history of the College Hill program. Preslovich currently sits in third place, just twenty out of the second slot, in career points with 1,362. She also appears on the career lists in rebounding (793 - fifth), steals (209 - fourth) and blocked shots (77 - fourth). Young has passed her way to second on the career assist list with 474. She also sits at third in steals (264) and sixth in three-pointers (54). Grove is third all-time with 111 three-pointers. Junior guard Casey Shoup (Altoona/Altoona) sits in seventh place in treys with 52. Junior center Kelly Steinbeiser (Altoona/Altoona) has moved her way into 10th place with 55 blocked shots.

LEBANON VALLEY LEADERS: Picked to finish fourth in the Commonwealth pre-season coaches poll, Lebanon Valley surprised the conference by taking the conference regular-season crown and securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. What has not caught the Commonwealth off guard is the play of junior Stephanie Tighe, who leads the conference in scoring with her 17.6 points-per-game average. She is also pulling down 7.4 rebounds a showing. Freshman Jennifer Northcott is posting 11.1 points a contest and a Commonwealth-best 9.8 boards per game. She has also registered 62 blocked shots to lead the conference. Crystal Gibson, who is a freshman, has passed out a team-high 106 assists and leads the Dutchwomen with 53 steals. She is second in the Commonwealth in assists per game (4.2) and third in steals an outing (2.1). The Lebanon Valley women's program is under the direction of ninth-year head coach Peg Kauffman, who is 16-3 versus Juniata in her career.

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