(Posted January 17, 2006)

Juniata 85, Messiah 83 (2OT)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. ? It took two overtimes and a seemingly endless number of big plays on offense and defense but eventually the Juniata College men?s basketball team outlasted visiting Messiah College 85-83 in Commonwealth Conference action in Memorial Gym Tuesday night.

Tommy McConnell (Bishop Guilfoyle/Hollidaysburg) scored a team-high 17 points including several big baskets at the end of regulation and overtime to help Juniata improve to 8-8 overall and 3-2 in conference action. The loss was the first conference set-back of the season for the Falcons who fell to 4-1 in league play, while dropping to 11-5 overall.

After a Messiah comeback in the end of regulation and a Juniata comeback in the first overtime, the Eagles finally took control at the beginning of the second overtime when McConnell converted a lay-up and hit a free throw to put Juniata on top 77-72. The lead was extended to eight on the next trip when Aaron Chamberlain (Tussey Mountain/Wood) nailed a triple making the score 80-72 with 2:56 left in the overtime session. Back-to-back hoops and a free throw from Messiah?s Zach Wiernicki cut the deficit to three points with under a minute left, but Brian Cannon (Fallston/Fallston, Md.) tipped home an offensive rebound to extend the lead to five. The Eagles converted free throws the rest of the way and hung on despite two late threes from Wiernicki and Matt Henninger.

The Eagles got to the second overtime period with a furious rally at the end of the first extra session. The two teams traded baskets at the start of the period, but after a Jared Yoder hoop, Juniata turned the ball over and Messiah claimed a four-point lead with just 26 seconds left on a Steve King basket. McConnell quickly answered with a jumper, and then knocked the ball away from the Falcons in the backcourt and converted a feed from Chamberlain to tie the score at 72 with 14 ticks on the clock. Messiah?s chance at the win was snuffed when Chris Jasiota (Oil City/Oil City) rejected Yoder?s shot attempt, sending the game into the second overtime period.

It was a miraculous comeback from the Falcons at the close of regulation that sent the game into overtime. After trailing by one at the 9:42 mark, a pair of hoops from Cannon and a Nick Hager (Franklin/Franklin) three sparked a 12-2 run that put Juniata in front 55-46 with 5:20 left in the game. Messiah responded with an 8-0 run of its own, whittling the lead to a single point on a Yoder lay-in. McConnell answered with a Juniata three with 33 seconds left, which seemed to have Juniata back in control. But Messiah?s Quinn McCullough knocked down a three with 15 seconds left cutting the lead back to one. Juniata moved back up by three when Hager broke the Messiah pressure and found Cannon all alone under the hoop with six seconds on the clock. But McCullough answered again, weaving his way through Juniata?s defense and drilling a leaning three pointer with one second left to send the game to overtime tied at 60.

The Eagles finished with five players in double figures. Jasiota and Travis Boyd (Juniata Valley/Barree) each scored 14, while Chamberlain and Cannon added 11 and 10 respectively. McConnell paced the team with six assists in the game, and also grabbed seven steals, while Jeff Byer (Conemaugh Twp./Davidsville) grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

Wiernicki led all players with 24 points and grabbed a team-best nine rebounds. Yoder matched his nine boards while also scoring 16. McCullough finished with 15 points and a team-best five assists, while Matt Henninger and King chipped in 12 and 10 respectively.

The Eagles are back in action on Saturday when they play at Commonwealth rival Albright.

MESSIAH (83): McCullough 5 0-0 15, Wiernicki 10 3-8 24, Henninger 5 0-0 12, Yoder 7 2-4 16, King 3 3-6 10, Sneeringer 0 0-2 0, Brown 1 2-3 4, Snyder 1 0-0 2. Totals ? 32 10-23 83

JUNIATA (85): Jasiota 6 0-0 14, Boyd 4 2-2 14, McConnell 7 1-5 17, Cannon 5 0-0 10, Hager 3 0-1 9, Byer 2 0-3 4, Ferko 0 0-0 0, Opitz 1 4-4 6, Chamberlain 2 5-7 11, Holloway 0 0-0 0. Totals ? 30 14-24 85

Halftime: Tied 28-28. 3-point goals: Messiah 9 (McCullough 5, Henninger 2, Wiernicki, King); Juniata 11 (Boyd 4, Hager 3, McConnell 2, Chamberlain 2). Assists: Messiah 17 (McCullough 5); Juniata 14 (McConnell 6). Rebounds: Messiah 47 (Wiernick, Yoder 9); Juniata 44 (Byer 7).
Records: Messiah (11-5, 4-1 Commonwealth), Juniata (8-8, 3-2 Commonwealth).


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Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.