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Juniata men's hoops upends Catholic in Landmark road tilt

(Posted February 7, 2009)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Some clutch defense and a few timely baskets down the stretch helped Juniata College post a 71-64 upset over Catholic University, in Landmark Conference men's basketball action on Saturday night at the DuFour Center in Washington, D.C.

Senior David Thompson (Altoona, Pa./Altoona) scored 22 points to lead the Eagles, while Eric Mueseler (Latrobe, Pa./Latrobe) and Ryan Jones (Coudersport, Pa./Coudersport) tacked on 17 and 12 points respectively.

Catholic's Jason Banzhaf tallied a game-high 25 points with 13 rebounds, with Nick Olivero giving the Cardinals a 16-point lift off the bench.

After Juniata saw what had been a 12-point lead early in the second half get reduced to a 60-60 tie with 3:01 remaining, Thompson drained a pair of free throws to break the deadlock and give the Eagles the lead. Junior Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) added a three-pointer barely 30 seconds later, stretching Juniata's lead to 65-60 with 2:08 showing on the clock.

First year guard Dan Sekulski (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone Area) hit the second of two free throws with under a minute remaining, bumping the Juniata lead to six points; after Catholic's RJ Dixon gained one point back with a foul shot of his own, Jones converted two more from the line and Juniata's lead stood at 68-61 with 38 seconds remaining.

Catholic's Spencer Reed hit the front-end of two foul shots to cut the Juniata lead to six points, and Banzhaf put back the offensive rebound of the missed second shot to pull the Cardinals to within four points.

However Thompson got a layup on the other end of the court off a pass from Berkey, giving Juniata a six-point advantage in the waning seconds.

Juniata was just 4-of-8 at the line over the final two minutes, but the Eagles kept the Cardinals in check defensively as Catholic was just 1-of-5 from the field over that same span.

The Eagles shot 47.1% from the field, including an 8-of-16 mark from three-point range - Juniata's best effort beyond the arc this season. Defensively, Juniata held Catholic - the Landmark's top scoring offense and second-best squad in field goal percentage - to just 36.1% (22-61) from the floor. Catholic (15-6, 6-4 Landmark) was also forced into 21 turnovers, which yielded 20 points for the Eagles.

Juniata (5-16, 3-7 Landmark) concludes its final Landmark road trip of the season on Sunday afternoon at Goucher College in Towson, Md. 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.