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Berkey pours in career-high 29 to lead Juniata past Drew in OT thriller

(Posted February 14, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College junior Jeff Berkey's (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) two free throws with 12 seconds remaining in regulation and eight points in overtime helped carry the Eagles to a 79-75 overtime win over Drew University, in a Landmark Conference men's basketball thriller on Saturday night in Huntingdon.

Berkey's overtime total was part of a career-high 29-point performance, which included a 7-of-12 mark from the field and an 11-of-12 effort at the free-throw line.

With Juniata (7-16, 5-7 Landmark) leading by eight points with 10:32 remaining in the second half, Drew (4-19, 2-10 Landmark) took a 53-52 lead thanks to a nine-point run. After a tie and a lead change, the Eagles still held a 64-59 lead as the clock moved inside of two minutes.

The Rangers' Ryan Eisner cut the margin to one point after twice making a pair of free throws, both times following fouls by the Eagles' Ryan Jones (Coudersport, Pa./Coudersport). After both Drew and Juniata missed layup opportunities, Berkey was fouled by Drew's Nelson Albino with 12 seconds on the clock. Berkey made both, putting the Eagles up by three points, 66-63.

Jones picked up his fourth foul immediately after the inbounds pass to Albino, who converted both free throws to put the Rangers within one point of the Eagles. Drew's Gerard Mullin promptly fouled Juniata's Eric Mueseler (Latrobe, Pa./Latrobe), trying to force the Eagles to defend their lead at the stripe. Mueseler missed the front-end of the one-and-one, with the rebound going to Drew.

With time expiring, the Rangers' Joe Horvath drove the lane at the other end of the floor, in an effort to score the game-winning bucket. Jones stepped in front of Horvath to draw the charge, but was instead called for his fifth foul on the block. Horvath drained his first foul shot with 1.3 seconds left on the clock, but, after a full Juniata timeout, the potential game-winning free throw bounced twice on the rim before falling away, where it was rebounded by Mueseler to send the game into overtime.

Berkey took charge in the overtime period, scoring a jumper and a three-pointer in the first two minutes to give the Eagles a five-point lead. He later added three more points on free throws with 2:33 showing in overtime, when he was fouled on another trey attempt.

Justin Baker's (Nanty Glo, Pa./Bishop Carroll) layup with 18 seconds left in OT kept Juniata in front with a two-possession lead, 77-72. After Albino cut the Eagle advantage to two points on a three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining, Mueseler answered one second later with a pair of free-throws that expanded the Juniata lead back to four points.

Baker tallied 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench for Juniata. Senior David Thompson (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) finished the game with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Mueseler logged his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 boards.

Drew had a pair of players in double figures, led by Mullin with 22 points and Mike Mayes with 18.

Juniata closes out the weekend on Sunday afternoon, when it hosts the United States Merchant Marine Academy at 4:00 p.m. at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

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