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Juniata MBB comeback falls short against Merchant Marine

(Posted January 16, 2009)

KINGS POINT, N.Y. - The Juniata College men's basketball team shot 50.0% from the floor in the second half, but could not quite catch the United States Merchant Marine Academy and eventually fell to the Mariners, 79-65, in Landmark Conference men's basketball action on Friday in Kings Point, N.Y.

Merchant Marine (8-6, 4-0 Landmark) broke open what had been a one-possession game for much of the first half with a 16-3 run over the final 4:20 of the first half. That allowed the Mariners to take a 39-27 lead in the locker room at the intermission.

Juniata (3-12, 1-3 Landmark) waged a comeback battle starting at the 10-minute mark of the second half, with Merchant Marine holding a 57-48 lead. A pair of Justin Baker (Nanty Glo, Pa./Bishop Carroll) foul shots cut the margin to seven points, and a Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) jumper followed by an Eric Mueseler (Latrobe, Pa./Latrobe) three-pointer left the Eagles trailing 57-55 with 8:09 to play.

The Mariners' Max Paul ended the Eagle scoring run with a pair of foul shots, and a traditional three-point play by Matt Hueber with 7:12 showing expanded the Merchant Marine lead back to seven points.

Ryan Jones (Coudersport, Pa./Coudersport) briefly brought Juniata back to within four points at 62-58, but two more free throws by Hueber and a pair of foul shots by Tom Izzo stretched the Mariners' advantage to 66-58 with 5:21 remaining.

David Thompson (Altoona, Pa./Altoona) scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Eagles, with Berkey chipping in with 12 points. Mueseler added another 11 points to the Juniata cause.

Merchant Marine had four players score in double figures, led by Pat Grace with 18 points.

Juniata returns to action on Saturday when it faces Drew University. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.

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