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Juniata men's hoops falls at home to Washington & Jefferson

(Posted December 20, 2008)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. รข?" Juniata College went from a red-hot shooting performance in the first half of its men's basketball non-conference clash with Washington & Jefferson College to a somewhat cooler effort in the second, and dropped a 55-47 decision to the Presidents on Saturday afternoon at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

Juniata (2-7) held a 35-28 lead following Eric Mueseler's (Latrobe, Pa./Latrobe) layup with 16:32 left in the second half, capping an 8-0 Eagle run to open the second stanza.

The Eagles would score only one more basket over the next eight minutes of play.

The Presidents (7-4) romped on an 18-2 run during that stretch, which eventually ended with W&J holding a 46-37 lead with 8:33 showing.

Juniata cut the lead to just four points on two occasions, spurred by a jumper and later a three-pointer by David Thompson (Altoona, Pa./Altoona), with Justin Baker (Nanty Glo, Pa./Bishop Carroll) adding a free throw. Washington & Jefferson's Matt Drakeley helped fend off the Juniata counterattack by going 8-of-8 at the free-throw line over the final three-and-a-half minute, while Juniata was 1-of-6 from the field during that same span.

The first half was a back-and-forth contest, with four ties and five lead changes. The Eagles held a five-point lead, 23-18, at the 6:59 mark following a trey by Johnny Martinez (Mount Union, Pa./Mount Union), but the Presidents outscored Juniata 10-4 down the stretch in the first half to take a 28-27 lead into the intermission. W&J's Wahab Owolabi scored three straight buckets for the Presidents during their late first-half run.

Owolabi paced W&J offensively with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Drakeley chipped in with 14 points - most of it at the charity stripe.

Juniata was led by Thompson with 15 points, with Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) chipped in with 11 points. The Eagles shot 52.6% (10-19) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, but saw that shooting percentage drop to 27.6% (8-29) in the second half.

W&J effectively controlled the boards, out rebounding Juniata 37-29 - including a 10-4 advantage on the offensive glass.

Juniata will return to action on Friday, Jan. 2, 2009, when it faces Gettysburg College in the opening game of the Sheraton New Year's Tournament at Albright College in Reading, Pa. The Bullets (4-2, 1-1 Centennial) were ranked as high as ninth in Division III earlier this season in the D3Hoops.com poll, but are currently unranked after losses in each of their last two games against #21 Ursinus College and un-ranked Widener University.

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