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Juniata's shooting and Sekulski's 21 points can't overcome Scranton's board work in loss to Royals

(Posted January 14, 2011)

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Junior guard Dan Sekulski (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone) scored a game-high 21 points to lead a Juniata College squad that outshot the University of Scranton, but the Royals' rebounding efforts proved decisive in Scranton's 72-61 Landmark Conference win over Juniata on Friday night at the Long Center.

The loss evened Juniata's Landmark Conference record at 2-2, with a 9-6 overall record.

Scranton turned in a dominating performance on the boards, outrebounding Juniata 40 to 21. The Royals' held a 16 to 6 advantage on the offensive glass, and finished with 22 second-chance points to Juniata's three.

Those rebounds negated what was otherwise a solid offensive performance by the Eagles.

Juniata shot .471 (24-of-51) from the field against a Scranton squad that began the game ranked second in the Landmark Conference in field goal percentage defense, with opponents shooting a mere .409 against the Royals. The Eagles shot .524 (11-of-21) in the first half alone.

Sekulski, the Landmark Conference's reigning player of the week, was 9-of-14 from the floor against Scranton, including a 2-for-2 mark from three-point range. The 21-point performance was Sekulski's fourth 20-point game of the season.

Sophomore guard Alex Raymond (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) finished with 13 points and was 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, and handed out five assists with four steals. Freshman guard Jeremy Hays (McMechen, W.Va./John Marshall) scored 12 points off the bench on 4-of-10 shooting, with four assists and three steals to his credit. Hays boasted 4-for-4 accuracy from the free-throw line.

Sekulski and Raymond each drained three-pointers during Juniata's late-second half run at Scranton, cutting an 11-point deficit down to 55-50 with 6:54 remaining in the game. Sekulski's steal and fastbreak layup on Scranton's ensuing possession trimmed the Royals' lead down to 55-52.

A turnover by Scranton's Matt Swaback gave possession back to Juniata, but Raymond's trey attempt was off target and Austin Ankney's (Somerset, Pa./Somerset) two layup attempts from offensive rebounds wouldn't fall either. Luke Hawk finally hauled in the defensive rebound for the Royals, leading to a Zach Ashworth layup and foul shot on a traditional three-point play and a six-point advantage for Scranton.

Juniata twice knocked the Scranton lead back to four points, but the Royals answered each time - including a Swaback three-pointer with 2:50 showing on the clock, giving Scranton a seven-point lead at 63-56. The Royals were 7-of-7 at the free-throw line over the game's final four minutes.

The Royals opened the second half with an 11-2 run, after a first half that saw six ties and seven lead changes. Juniata began the game with a 5-0 lead after a Brian Scholly (State College, Pa./State College Area) jumper and a Sekulski trey, but that would be the largest lead the Eagles would hold in the game.

Scranton, who remained undefeated in the conference at 4-0 while improving their overall ledger to 11-2, had four starters finish in double figures.

Ashworth led the Royals with 18 points to go with five assists and four steals, and was 8-of-8 at the free-throw line. Hawk completed the game's only double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and recorded a pair of blocks. Tommy Morgan tallied 13 points, and Swaback drained three 3-pointers on his way to 12 points and eight boards.

Scranton shot .463 (25-of-54) from the floor over 40 minutes. The Royals were 15-of-18 at the free-throw line, compared to Juniata's 7-of-11 at the line.

Juniata returns to action on Saturday afternoon, when the Eagles travel to Bethlehem, Pa., to take on Moravian College. Tip-off 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.