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Four players in double digits not enough as men's basketball loses to Scranton

(Posted February 13, 2010)

SCRANTON, Pa. - In a must win game to keep its playoff hopes alive, the Juniata College men's basketball team fell short against the University of Scranton, 74-68, at the John J. Long Center, Saturday afternoon.

The Eagles started the game on the right foot, jumping out of the gates and grabbing an early lead. Before the Royals knew what hit them, they found themselves down nine points less than five minutes into the game.

Freshman Nate Higgins (St. Mary's, Pa. / Elk County Catholic) hit two early three-pointers and senior Ryan Jones (Coudersport, Pa. / Coudersport) had seven points, putting the Eagle in front, 16-7 with 15:15 left in the first half.

The scoring halted for both squads for over three and a half minutes before sophomore Matt Regan (Downingtown, Pa. / Devon Prep) gave the Eagles their largest lead of the game at 18-7 with 11:34 showing on the scoreboard.

From there, the Royals went on a 31-17 spurt, spanning the rest of the first half, to take a three point lead into the locker room. Scranton shot 57.1 percent from the floor, and hit six of 12 shots from three-point range in the first half alone.

The Royals continued their run as they scored the first nine points of the second half to take their largest lead of the game, 47-35.

But, Juniata (9-15, 4-9 Landmark) responded with a 10-1 run of its own to cut the deficit to three. From there, the home team's lead would not go beyond six until late in the game.

Senior Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa. / Shanksville-Stoneycreek) tied the ball game at 54 a piece with his lone long distance shot of day. But Juniata could not get over the hump as Scranton (15-8, 9-3 Landmark) kept them at arm's reach.

The true dagger came from an Eli Londo three-pointer with 1:18 remaining to push the Royals lead from five to eight. That followed a missed layup by Jones and a rebound for Higgins with the opportunity for second chance points. But Higgins missed the put back, which led to a five-point swing for the Royals, and the Eagles could not recover.

Jones recorded a double double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, as Regan had a team high 15 points. Freshman Alex Raymond (Hollidaysburg, Pa. / Altoona) added 13 points and four assists while Higgins contributed 10 points and seven rebounds. Berkey finished with nine points but pulled down a game high 11 rebounds.

Luke Hawk led all scorers with 21, followed by Zach Ashworth with 20 points. Londo ended the game with 10 points and a team high six rebounds.

The loss mathematically eliminates Juniata from the Landmark Conference playoff picture, as they needed to win and have Susquehanna University lose to stay a game behind the Crusaders.

The Eagles close out their season with a road game against archrival Susquehanna on Saturday, Feb. 20. Tip off is slated for 7:30 p.m.

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