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Women's basketball clinches Landmark tourney top seed with 76-65 win over Susquehanna

(Posted February 19, 2011)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College women's basketball sewed up home court for next week's Landmark Conference Women's Basketball Tournament with a 76-65 win over Susquehanna University, Saturday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

The Eagles improved to 19-6 overall with the win, second-highest season win total in program history, and completed their Landmark slate with a 12-2 mark. Susquehanna fell to 12-13, 7-7 Landmark, with the loss.

Juniata will host fourth-seeded Catholic University of America in a Landmark WBB Tournament semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center. Tip-off time for that game will be determined on Monday.

Juniata overcame a 35.6 percent (21-59) shooting performance from the field on its way to the victory. The Eagles survived thanks to their 30-of-40 effort at the free-throw line on the Crusaders' 24 fouls, just one made free throw and two attempts shy of school records.

Susquehanna handily outshot Juniata, shooting .458 (27-59) from the field including 9-of-21 (.429) from three-point range, but the Crusaders went to the line just four times and converted two of those attempts.

However Juniata dominated Susquehanna on the boards, outrebounding the Crusaders 48 to 30. The Eagles advantage was even more pronounced on the offensive glass, where Juniata had 21 offensive rebounds to Susquehanna's seven.

Juniata senior Jen Hnatuck (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Trinity) closed out the regular season with her seventh double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds, on the strength of a 6-of-7 effort at the free-throw line. Eagle freshman Kate McDonald (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa./State College Area) went 8-of-11 at the stripe, and finished with 12 points to go with 11 boards for her eighth double-double of the season.

Hnatuck went 3-for-4 at the line over the final five minutes while McDonald was 4-for-6, helping seal the Juniata victory and stave off any Susquehanna comeback bid.

Paige Robertson (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) tallied 17 points off the bench, thanks to her 7-of-9 effort from the floor including two of Juniata's four three pointers.

Junior guard Meagan Raville (McSherrystown, Pa./Delone Catholic) finished with just five points, but all those came during Juniata's 11-0 run midway through the first half which left the Eagles with a 52-43 lead with 10:13 remaining in the game. A pair of McDonald foul shots started the rally, which tied the game at 43-43 with 14:36 showing, and Raville later added a layup and a three-pointer on back-to-back trips down the floor.

Susquehanna senior forward Samantha Cartwright ended the Juniata run with a trey, to which Robertson responded with a three-pointer for the Eagles.

The Crusaders later knocked the Eagle lead down to five points, 65-60, on forward Amarra Boone's layup with 3:28 remaining. Ashton Bankos (York, Pa./York Catholic) replied with a pair of foul shots for Juniata, part of her eight-point effort on the night.

McDonald tacked on a layup and later two foul shots to give Juniata's closing run momentum, and Robertson capped the surge with a layup to put the Eagles in front 73-60 with 1:58 remaining.

Susquehanna senior guard Erika Barron closed out her career with a game-high 24 points, her second 20-point game in as many outings. Cartwright finished with 17 points, while sophomore forward Gina Palazzi tallied 10 points in the loss.

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