(Posted February 10, 2006)

Huntingdon, PA - The Juniata College basketball teams will travel to Annville, Pa. on Saturday to play a pair of critical conference contests against Lebanon Valley. The men's game will begin at 1 p.m. with the women's contest to follow at 3 p.m. Both games carry significant postseason implications as the Eagles try to battle their way into the conference postseason.

The Juniata women take a two-game conference winning streak into the game, and they look to continue their late-season surge into the postseason. The Eagles are 3-2 in their last five games, all conference games, and currently sit in a three-way tie for fifth in the conference standings. A 66-47 win over Elizabethtown last Tuesday brought Juniata's record to 11-11 overall and 4-7 in conference play. Juniata earned an 85-76 win over the Flying Dutchmen in late January, the first of Juniata's three wins during the current five-game stretch.

The long-range shooting of Ali Meckey (Bishop Carroll/Ebensburg) has sparked Juniata during its recent run as she drilled five three pointers in the win over Elizabethtown. In the Eagles' last five games she has knocked down 16 threes and is shooting 57 percent from behind the three-point line. Sophomore Jess Winemiller (Dallastown/York) continues to lead Juniata in scoring at 12.7 points per game while seniors Kristen Kirk (Newport/Newport) and Katie O'Brien are both also averaging more than 10.9 points per game. With nine points against the Blue Jays Kirk is now just 33 points shy of the 1,000-point plateau for her career. As much as the offensive production, Juniata's defense has been the difference in its recent play. The Eagles have held each of their last two foes to 50 points or less and limited them to worse than 37 percent shooting and forced 43 turnovers.

Lebanon Valley is currently in eighth place in the conference with a record of 1-10 in conference play along with a 6-16 record overall. There one conference win came in mid-January, and they enter Saturday's game having lost eight of their last 10 games, including seven-straight conference set-backs. Monica Johnson is one of the top scorers in the conference as she is averaging 19.9 which has helped the Flying Dutchmen rank among the leading offenses in the Commonwealth. Megan Bish and Allie Butler are both also averaging in double figures in points on the season. While their offense is scoring more than 67 points per game, they also rank last in the conference in defense.

The Juniata men are trying to get back into the win column after suffering a pair of tough conference losses. A 77-66 set-back to Elizabethtown on Wednesday has Juniata sitting in a tie for fifth place in the conference with a record of 5-6 and an overall mark of 10-12. The Eagles are still just a game out of the final postseason spot in the conference behind Albright and Elizabethtown who each hold records of 6-5. Lebanon Valley is still mathematically in contention for a postseason spot with a record of 4-7 in the conference, while they are 10-12 on the year. The Eagles will be looking to avoid a sweep by the Flying Dutchmen as Lebanon Valley topped the Eagles 89-84 in double overtime earlier this season.

It's been Juniata's seniors carrying a bulk of the offensive load down the stretch as Travis Boyd (Juniata Valley/Barree) and Tommy McConnell (Bishop Guilfoyle/Hollidaysburg) try and drive the team into the postseason. McConnell has scored in double figures in six of the Eagles' last seven games, and is also averaging 4.5 assists per game during that stretch. Boyd has caught fire from long range down the stretch as he has knocked down 14 triples in the last four games, and is shooting 60 percent from three-point range in those games. Boyd also leads Juniata in rebounding and is the only player to rank in the top-10 in the conference in three-point field-goal percentage, rebounding and blocked shots. Nick Hager has also been shooting well from the perimeter of late as he is averaging just less than 10 points per game over Juniata's last four contests. In conference games only Juniata leads the conference in scoring, and is the only team with six players to rank in the top-25 in scoring.

The Flying Dutchmen will be looking to bounce back from a 20-point loss at Moravian this past Wednesday. After earning the double overtime win over Juniata, Lebanon Valley dropped three of its next four games, with the only victory coming at home against Elizabethtown. Jimmy Curran spearheads the offensive attack, though the team currently ranks last in the conference in points per game. Curran is averaging 14.4 points per outing which is fifth in the conference. They also have one of the top rebounders in the league in Dan Hogan who is pulling down 8.7 rebounds per game on the season. The Flying Dutchmen shot a blistering 49 percent from the field in the victory over Juniata earlier this season, and were 10-of-20 from three-point range in the victory. Curran and Hogan both topped 20 points, while three other Lebanon Valley players scored in double figures. Lebanon Valley has struggled offensively of late, having scored 65 points or less in each of its last four games.


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