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Women's basketball unable to hold off late Susquehanna surge

(Posted December 6, 2008)

SELINSGROVE, Pa. -- Juniata College's second half lead could not withstand a final surge from Susquehanna University as the Eagles dropped a 59-55 decision to the Crusaders, in Landmark Conference women's basketball action on Saturday evening in Selinsgrove, Pa.

Reserve guard Gina Piccolini (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) led the Eagles with 14 points, while forward Jen Hnatuck (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Trinity) logged 13 points. Forward Kelly Ashcraft (Bellefonte, Pa./State College Area) had 10 points to go with eight rebounds; guard Claudia McDowell matched Ashcraft's game-high rebounding performance with eight boards of her own while dishing out six assists.

Juniata (3-5, 0-1 Landmark) had a five-point lead, 55-50, with 2:49 remaining in the game, but could not keep the Crusaders at bay to post the victory.

Susquehanna's Rachael Hughes cut Juniata's lead down to one possession with a jumper at the 2:40 mark, and Ashley Watkins trimmed the margin down to a single bucket when she converted the first of two free-throw attempts with 1:57 remaining.

Libby Shober knotted the game at 55-55 when she hit both her foul shots for the Crusaders, and a Watkins layup barely 20 seconds later put Susquehanna into the led.

A pair of jumpers in the waning seconds by Ashcraft and Piccolini were off the mark, while Hughes padded the Susquehanna lead with a pair of free throws with six seconds showing on the clock. The Eagles were 1-of-5 from the field over the final three minutes, and 2-of-6 over the last five minutes.

Juniata had trailed by 11 points earlier in the second half, 35-24 with 15:51 remaining, but responded with a 12-2 run that cut the Susquehanna lead to 37-36 by the 11:37 mark. The game remaining a one-possession contest for much of the next five minutes, until Juniata regained the lead on Piccolini's jumper with 6:27 to play.

Susquehanna (7-1, 1-0 Landmark) led the majority of the first half, with both teams struggling to find their shots. Juniata was just 8-of-29 (27.6%) from the field over the opening 20 minutes; the Crusaders weren't much better, connecting on just seven of their 25 shots (28.0%) from the floor.

The Eagles' next game will be Tuesday, Dec. 9, when they travel to Lancaster, Pa., to face Franklin & Marshall College.

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