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Juniata women's basketball stuns Scranton 81-68 for first win over Royals since 1992

(Posted January 14, 2011)

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Juniata College shot nearly 71 percent from the field in the second half, erasing a nine-point halftime deficit and cruising to a 81-68 Landmark Conference win over the University of Scranton, Friday night at the Long Center.

Juniata's victory over Scranton was its first since February 25, 1992 - when it posted a 71-65 victory over the Royals - and just the third triumph over Scranton in program history. All three Juniata wins have taken place at the University of Scranton's Long Center.

The contest started out looking like it would end in anything but a Juniata victory.

The Eagles turned over the ball on 10 of their first 12 possessions, and trailed the Royals 11-0 before three minutes had elapsed off the clock following a layup and later a conventional three-point play by Scranton's Megan Kopecki. Juniata finished the half with 18 turnovers, which led to 15 first-half Scranton points as the Royals went into the intermission with a 38-29 lead.

Juniata shot .462 (12-of-26) in the first half with four 3-pointers, which kept the Eagles within the striking distance of the Royals.

The second half was a complete reversal of fortune, as Juniata shot the lights out from the floor and took advantage of its opportunities at the free-throw line on its way to burying 19 years of frustration against Scranton.

The Eagles whittled away at the Royals' lead throughout the second half, finally overtaking Scranton on senior Jen Hnatuck's (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Trinity) layup with 5:32 remaining to give Juniata a 66-65 lead. Hnatuck was fouled by Scranton's Sarah Gage on the bucket, and converted the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play to stretch Juniata's lead to 67-65.

A pair of layups by freshman forward Kate McDonald (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa./State College Area), sandwiched around an Ashton Bankos (York, Pa./York Catholic) layup, extended Juniata's lead to 73-65 with 3:41 remaining. Bankos hit a pair of foul shots at the 1:29 mark and Jordan Speck (Huntingdon, Pa./Southern Huntingdon) and Hnatuck made a free throw each, giving the Eagles an 11-point advantage, 76-65, with under a minute remaining.

Scranton's Colleen McLane drained a three-pointer with 45 seconds showing on the clock, cutting the Juniata lead to nine points. That bucket ended a nearly six minute scoreless stretch for the Royals, whose last previous addition to the scoreboard came on Gage's layup at the 6:52 mark of the half.

Juniata closed out the game with Bankos and McDonald each making a pair of foul shots down the stretch, giving the Eagles the 13-point victory.

Juniata shot .708 (17-of-24) from the floor in the second half, and finished the game with a .580 field goal percentage - far-and-away the Eagles' best shooting performance this season - against a Scranton side that began the night leading the Landmark and ranked 31st in the nation in field goal percentage defense.
The Eagles were also 15-of-24 at the free-throw line against the Royals, including a 14-of-23 in the second half. Scranton was 3-of-3 at the charity stripe, all of it in the game's first 20 minutes.

Hnatuck finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. McDonald and Natalie Glinsky (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) each scored 14 points with four assists, while Bankos had 13 points with six assists. McDonald also logged four steals, while Glinsky nailed three 3-pointers on the night.

Juniata's 81 points was the most allowed by Scranton since a 92-85 double overtime win over Moravian on Feb. 23, 2008.

Kopecki led Scranton with 19 points on 9-of-19 shooting, to go with six rebounds. Alison Sweeney was the only other Royal to score in double figures, finished with 11 points. One of the few bright spots for the Royals was their ability to maintain possession; Scranton committed just 17 turnovers over the course of the game.

The win improved Juniata's overall record to 10-5, 3-1 in the Landmark Conference. The victory was the 101st career win for Juniata head coach Danny Young-Uhrich, tying her with former coach (1977-86) and current Elizabethtown College athletic director Nancy Latimore for most wins by a Juniata women's basketball coach.

The Eagles will return to the court on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. when Juniata takes on Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa.

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