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Juniata men's hoops falls to Susquehanna in Landmark opener

(Posted December 6, 2008)

SELINSGROVE, Pa. -- On a night when the ball just wasn't falling through the hoop for the Juniata College men's basketball team, the Eagles still managed to hang in against Landmark Conference-rival Susquehanna University during the first half.

The second half was a different story.

Juniata shot just 19.4% (6-of-31) from the field in the second stanza, and a six-point halftime deficit for the Eagles grew to 26 points before finally ending in a 64-41 defeat at the hands of Crusaders on Saturday night in Selinsgrove, Pa.

The Eagles were 15-of-55 (27.3%) from the field over the entire game, while the Crusaders were firing at a 47.4% (27-57) clip.

Freshman guard Dan Sekulski (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone Area) led Juniata with eight points on 4-of-10 shooting, the best performance turned in by any of the Eagles. Seniors Eric Mueseler (Latrobe, Pa./Latrobe) and Justin Baker (Nanty Glo, Pa./Bishop Carroll), and junior guard Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) all added six points to the Juniata cause; Baker hauled down a team-high nine rebounds on the night.

After a Susquehanna bucket to open the second half, David Thompson (Altoona, Pa./Altoona) and Sekulski each hit jumpers in the span of a minute to knock the Susquehanna lead down to four points, 32-28.

But nearly eight minutes would tick off the clock before Juniata would drain its next field goal after Sekulski's bucket at the 18:24 mark, with a Matt Fritz (Allentown, Pa./Parkland) layup ending the scoring drought with 10:43 showing. The resulting 16-0 Susquehanna run left the Crusaders with a 48-28 lead.

The margin reached its widest at 26 points with under 10 seconds to play in the game, but Fritz connected on a three-pointer just before time expired to give the game its final 23-point difference.

The Eagles showed a much grittier side in the first half, battling back from a series of 12-point deficits -- the last coming at 29-17 with 3:04 remaining, when Juniata's 7-1 run cut the Susquehanna advantage to 30-24 at the intermission. Ryan Jones (Coudersport, Pa./Coudersport) had a traditional three-point play to trigger the run, with Sekulski and Thompson adding buckets for the Eagles.

Juniata (1-5, 0-1 Landmark) was outrebounded 45-33 by the Crusaders, but committed just 15 turnovers on the night -- its second-best ball handling performance of the season.

Susquehanna (5-2, 1-0 Landmark) was paced by Joel Patch's double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Rob Cosgrove led the Crusaders with 15 points. Bryan Majors completed the list of double-digit scorers for Susquehanna with 11 points along with five steals.

The Eagles will return to the hardwood on Monday, Dec. 9, when they travel to New Wilmington, Pa., to face Westminster College. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.

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