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Juniata falls to Washington & Jefferson in men's hoops action

(Posted December 20, 2009)

WASHINGTON, Pa. -- Juniata College senior guard Jeff Berkey's (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) season-high 24 points was the standout offensive performance of the game, but the Eagles struggled to hit their shots in the second half and dropped a 75-57 decision to Washington & Jefferson College, Sunday afternoon in Washington, Pa.

Berkey was 7-of-15 from the field, including an impressive 7-of-13 from three-point range. Five of those treys came in the first half, including a pair in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the opening frame that wiped out a four-point W&J lead and put Juniata in front, 35-33, with 1:48 remaining.

Juniata (5-5, 1-0 Landmark) trailed 36-35 at the intermission, after the Presidents' Paul Matthews made a jumper and hit the first of two free throws in the final 1:30 of the first half. The Eagles were aided by six Presidents turnovers, which Juniata turned into 12 points.

The second half was entirely different contest. The Eagles connected on just five of their 33 field goal attempts (15.2%) in the second half, after shooting 40.0% (12-of-30) over the opening 20 minutes.

Freshman Mike Walker (Homer City, Pa./Homer City) drained a three-pointer to open the second half, briefly giving Juniata a 38-36 lead. However the Eagles would not make another basket until Ryan Jones' (Coudersport, Pa./Coudersport) layup at the 12:06 mark, by which the Presidents had built a 50-40 lead.

Juniata would go another four minutes without a bucket, with Berkey ending the field goal drought with his sixth trey of the night. That three-pointer cut the Washington & Jefferson lead to 13 points, 61-48, but that was as close as Juniata would get.

W&J's lead reached its widest at 70-49 with 4:55 showing on the game clock, following an Akram Hidmi layup. Berkey responded by hitting a free throw and later his seventh three-pointer of the night, cutting the lead to 17.

Berkey was the only Juniata starter in double-digits; the next highest Eagle scorer was Jones with nine points and eight rebounds off the bench. Matt Regan (Downingtown, Pa./Devon Prep) chipped in with seven points and had a pair of blocks. Freshman guard Alex Raymond (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) dished our four assists with a pair of steals, and finished with three points.

Washington & Jefferson (6-5) was led offensively by a pair of reserves: Brian Felker with 13 points, nine of which came at the free-throw line, and R.J. Pilato with 12 points. Albert Vacarello led the starters with nine points, while Matthews was the game's high rebounder with 12 boards.

Juniata will take a break for the holidays, returning to action on Saturday, Jan. 2, when it hosts Penn State Altoona at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center. Tip-off is slated for 4:00 p.m.

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