(Posted November 20, 2004)

Juniata 74, Penn State-Berks 69

Huntingdon, Pa. ? Nick Hager (Franklin/Franklin) nailed a three pointer with 52 seconds left in the game to help propel the Juniata College men?s basketball team to a 74-69 over Penn State-Berks in the opening round of the Mutual Benefit Group ?Doc? Greene Tip-off Tournament in Huntingdon Saturday afternoon. Juniata will move on to play Muskingum in the tournament championship Sunday at 3 pm. Penn State-Berks will face Thiel College in the consolation game at 1 pm on Sunday.

Juniata led for nearly the entire game, but the visitors pulled within one on a basket by Steven Fulton with 1:24 remaining in the game. Hager then answered with his three off an assist from Aaron Chamberlain (Tussey Mountain/Wood) and Kyle Opitz (Pine Richland/Gibsonia) knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the win.

It was hot early shooting from Opitz that put Juniata in front in the first half. The freshman knocked down two threes in the first three minutes to send Juniata out to a 9-2 edge early on. The lead would grow to as big as eight with Neil Holloway (Tussey Mountain/Saxton) putting Juniata up 24-16 with 8:01 remaining in the half, but the Lions did not go away.

The visitors whittled away at the lead until free throw from Lulo Forster put the Lions up 30-29 minutes before the half. Another Opitz three gave Juniata a two-point lead with a minute remaining, and then Dan Gibney scored a bucket to send the game into halftime tied at 32.

The Lions continued the run out of the locker room as a three pointer from Curtis Geiger gave Penn State-Berks its largest lead of seven with 17:39 left in the contest. Following a timeout the Eagles then turned up the defense recording steals on three-straight possessions and converting all three to cut into the lead.

It would stay tight until the 10:34 mark with a three from Chamberlain sparked a 10-0 Juniata run that put the Blue and Gold in front 59-51 with 7:44 left. The Lions would battle back and get within one but Hager?s three would hold off the charge as the Eagles hung on for the win.

Hager finished with a team-high 18 for Juniata, while adding a team-best five assists and a team-high three steals. Opitz scored 13 his first collegiate game, while Chamberlain was also in double figures with 11. Chris Jasiota (Oil City/Oil City), Travis Boyd (Juniata Valley/Barree) and Holloway all finished with five rebounds.

Gieger finished as the high scorer in the game as he tossed in 19. Fulton was also in double figures with 17, with Gibney and Forster adding 13 and 11 respectively. Forster posted a ?double-double? as he also pulled in 11 rebounds while adding a team-best five assists and five blocks.

JUNIATA (74): Jasiota 3 2-2 8, Opitz 3 4-4 13, Boyd 2 1-2 5, Holloway 3 2-2 8, Hager 5 3-4 18, Byer 1 0-0 2, Chamberlain 4 0-0 11, McConnell 3 1-2
7, Cannon 1 0-0 2. Totals ? 25 13-16 74

PENN STATE-BERKS (69): Geiger 8 0-1 19, Gibney 5 2-4 13, Miller 1 0-0 2, Blatt 3 0-0 7, Forster 4 3-4 11, Fulton 5 7-8 17. Totals ? 26 12-17 69

Halftime: Tied 32-32. 3-point goals: Juniata 11 (Hager 5, Opitz 3, Chamberlain 3); Penn State-Berks (Geiger 3, Gibney, Blatt). Assists: Juniata 14 (Hager 5); Penn State-Berks (Forster 5). Rebounds: Juniata 27 (Jasiota, Boyd, Holloway 5); Penn State-Berks (Forster 11).

Records: Juniata (1-0); Penn State-Berks (0-1).


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