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Carnegie Mellon's second half surge carries Tartans past Juniata men's hoops

(Posted December 2, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A couple of stretches of cold shooting in the second half for Juniata College allowed Carnegie Mellon University back into what had been looking like a blow-out in the Eagles' favor, and the visiting Tartan men's basketball team managed to escape Huntingdon with an 84-79 win on Wednesday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

The Eagles began the second stanza with a one-point advantage, and watched the lead grow with a 15-2 run over a four-minute span in the early minutes of the frame. Juniata's (4-3, 0-0 Landmark) lead reached 15 points, 62-47, following Nate Higgins' (St. Mary's, Pa./Elk County Catholic) jumper with 13:21 remaining in the second half.

A three-pointer by CMU's Dan Lavallee answered the Higgins' jumper 15 seconds later. Freshman guard Alex Raymond (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) replied with a layup, and Juniata's lead stood at 64-50 with 12:32 remaining on the clock.

That would be Juniata's last bucket for the next four minutes. Carnegie Mellon (3-3, 0-0 UAA) scored 16 unanswered points during that span, eventually taking a 66-64 lead on another Lavallee trey.

A jumper and a layup by Raymond and senior guard Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) put Juniata back in front, 68-66. The two teams were tied twice over the next minute-and-a-half, sandwiched around senior forward Ryan Jones' (Coudersport, Pa./Coudersport) three-pointer to give the Eagles a 71-68 lead at the 6:23 mark.

However Juniata would connect on only one more field goal the rest of the way: a Raymond three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left on the clock.

After an Andre Moore trey to tie the game, the Tartans took the lead for good, 73-71, on Shane Rife's layup with 4:58 to play.

Juniata kept CMU within reach, allowing the Tartans to extend their lead to two possessions on just brief occasions over the final three minutes, thanks to some clutch shooting at the line by the Eagles. Juniata went 5-of-6 at the line over the final five minutes, but the Eagles were 1-of-10 from the field during that same stretch.

Raymond paced the Eagles offensively with 24 points while dishing out five assists, while Berkey tacked on 17 points. Jones contributed 19 points with 10 rebounds for Juniata off the bench.

Carnegie Mellon had five players in double figures, led by John Duhring with 23 points. Matthew Pettit scored 13, while Jack Anderson and Moore had 11 each. Lavallee finished with 10.

Juniata committed 17 turnovers to Carnegie Mellon's nine, with the Juniata turnovers leading to 20 points for the Tartans. The Eagles enjoyed a 40-36 advantage on the boards, but the Tartans 15 offensive rebounds led to 22 second-chance points for CMU.

Juniata opens Landmark Conference play this Saturday, Dec. 5, when it hosts Susquehanna University at 7:30 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.