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Juniata wages second half comeback before falling to #17 Messiah, 79-67

(Posted December 18, 2008)

GRANTHAM, Pa. -- A late Juniata College rally wasn't enough to overcome a 22-point second half deficit to Messiah College, as the Eagle women's basketball team dropped a 79-67 decision to the Falcons on Thursday night in Grantham, Pa.

The matchup was Juniata's (4-6) first of the season against a nationally ranked foe; Messiah (6-2) is currently ranked 17th in the D3hoops.com poll, and 18th in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches poll.

Messiah stretched a 16-point halftime lead all the way to 22 points with 7:01 showing on the game clock. Juniata took its first bite out of that margin with a three-pointer by senior guard Emily Hauser (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon), followed by a layup from sophomore forward Jen Hnatuck (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Trinity).

Rookie guard Ashton Bankos (York, Pa./York Catholic) drained a pair of treys in the final two minutes, adding to a pair of free throws by Kelly Ashcraft (Bellefonte, Pa./State College Area), but Messiah's lead was too large to catch down the stretch.

The Falcons opened the contest by scoring 10 of the game's first 12 points, while Juniata struggled to find its shot in the first half. The Eagles were just 10-of-30 (33.3%) from the floor, while Messiah shot at a blistering 50.0% (14-of-28).

Juniata shot 50.0% from the field in the second stanza, and outscored Messiah 42-38 in the latter half.

Senior guard Claudia McDowell (Alexandria, Pa./Juniata Valley) and Ashcraft led the Eagles with 14 points each, while Bankos tallied 13 points. Hnatuck logged a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Falcons were paced by Katie Kalb's 22 points on 8-of-19 shooting, while Angie Rapchinski notched 17 points - including 15 points from beyond the three-point line.

Juniata returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 3, when it faces Milligan University (Tenn.) in the opening game of the Juniata Holiday Tournament in Huntingdon.

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