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Sekulski's heave at the buzzer falls for three to lead Juniata men's hoops past Catholic

(Posted January 7, 2011)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- It's the type of shot you'd normally see only SportsCenter.

Junior guard Dan Sekulski's (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone) desperation heave from about 10 feet inside half-court fell for three-points as the buzzer sounded, leading Juniata College to a 55-54 Landmark Conference win over Catholic University of America on Friday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

Sekulski's answered prayer also left the visiting Cardinals - who looked like they would steal a precious conference road win after Pete Schramm's close-range jumper with :03 on the clock put Catholic in front by two - stunned and slack-jawed.

Juniata (8-5, 1-1 Landmark) trailed by three with 6:15 remaining in the second half, following a layup by Catholic's Jason Banzhaf for two of his team-high 20 points.

A Banzhaf foul just over three minutes later sent sophomore Nate Higgins (St. Mary's, Pa./Elk County Catholic) to the line for a pair of shots, cutting the Catholic lead to 50-49. Freshman Jeremy Hays' (McMechen, W.Va./John Marshall) steal and layup with 2:30 showing gave the Eagles a 51-50 advantage, and their first lead since the 9:25 mark of the first half.

RJ Dixon missed on a three-point attempt on the ensuing Catholic possession that would have returned the lead to the Cardinals, while Hays and Higgins both missed on buckets at the other end of the floor that would have stretched the Juniata lead to three.

A Juniata foul on Dixon helped put the Cardinals back in front, 52-51, with a pair of foul shots with 33.6 seconds remaining, but the Cardinals' Nate Koenig fouled Sekulski on a layup attempt just 11 seconds later. Sekulski's first attempt caromed away, but he converted his second attempt to knot the game at 52-52.

The Cardinals (10-3, 1-1 Landmark) worked the clock down to three seconds before Schramm took the ball inside for his two-point bucket. Despite having one timeout available, Juniata immediately in-bounded the ball and Sekulski raced up the sideline opposite the benches, releasing his shot between the time line and the three-point arc.

Sekulski finished with a team-high 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting, and dished out four assists on the night. Hays added 11 points off the bench, while Austin Ankney (Somerset, Pa./Somerset) logged eight points with a team-high seven rebounds.

The Eagles shot 45.1 percent from the field, nearly evenly split between the two halves, against a Catholic squad that entered the game ranked 16th in Division III in field goal percentage defense. Juniata committed just 10 turnovers, second-fewest in a game this season, while forcing the Catholic into 18 turnovers that led to 14 Eagle points.

Banzhaf finished with 20 points for Catholic, while Dixon tallied 15. The Cardinals also shot just over 45 percent from the field, and their 22 field goals for the game was just one shy of Juniata's total of 23.

Juniata completes the weekend of Landmark doubleheaders on Saturday afternoon, as it hosts Goucher College. Tip-off at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

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