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Upset-minded women's hoops falters in second half versus ninth-ranked Scranton

(Posted January 15, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A costly string of Juniata College turnovers midway through the second half helped fuel a University of Scranton comeback, propelling the ninth-ranked Royals to an 87-76 win over the Eagles in Friday night's Landmark Conference women's basketball showdown at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

Juniata (8-7, 2-2 Landmark) held a 52-49 lead over Scranton with 12:40 remaining in the second half, after the Eagles rallied from a deficit earlier in the frame thanks to three-pointers by Paige Robertson (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) and Ashton Bankos (York, Pa./York Catholic).

But the Eagles would turn over the ball on their next four trips up the floor, and the Royals took full advantage.

A pair of threes, a layup, and single foul shot by Scranton's Megan Kopecki, along with a Katherine Torto layup, vaulted the Royals into an eight-point lead in the span of about three minutes, and Juniata was forced to play catch-up against the number nine team in Division III women's basketball.

Scranton's lead reached double-digits on a Sarah Gage layup at the 7:03 mark, putting the Royals in front 67-57. The margin dipped into single digits for just one possession after that point, as the Eagles went nearly four minutes - all the way to the 3:59 mark of the second half - without making a bucket.

"Well, we had 'em," said Juniata head coach Danny Young-Uhrich. "Overall though, I can't be disappointed in the girls. We just need more of them to show up."

The Eagles shot 38.5 percent from the floor, and just 8-of-32 (.250) from three-point range - Juniata's second-lowest shooting percentage from beyond the arc this season.

Only three players scored in double figures, led by Bankos' 17 points. Meagan Raville (McSherrystown, Pa./Delone Catholic) chipped in with 14 points, while Robertson tallied 13.

Senior Kelly Rotan (Atco, N.J./Hammonton) grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, leading a Juniata squad that thoroughly dominated Scranton on the boards, 48-28. The margin on the offensive glass was even more impressive, as the Eagles held a 23-8 edge in offensive rebounds.

Scranton (11-2, 3-1 Landmark), who came into the game shooting 36.4 percent from the field and averaging just 63.3 points, shot a season-high 52.5 percent (32-of-61) from the field to go with the season-high 87 points. The Royals also went 18-of-24 (.750) at the free-throw line, their best such effort this season with over 20 free throw attempts.

"I didn't anticipate we would shoot so poorly and they would shoot so well," said Young-Uhrich. "I don't know what the foul shooting is on the year for them, but it sure as hell isn't 75 percent. And giving up 53 percent shooting from the floor? We're making too much of a habit of that."

The Eagles also committed 27 turnovers, leading to 28 Scranton points, to the Royals' 14 giveaways.

Kopecki paced the Scranton offense with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field, while Jennifer King tacked on 14 points. The Royals picked up a boost off the bench, with reserves Gage and Sidney Jaques contributing 11 points each. Overall, Scranton's five reserves tallied 42 points.

Juniata will try to redeem itself Saturday afternoon, when it hosts 19th-ranked Moravian College at 2:00 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.