(Posted February 14, 2006)

Susquehanna 54, Juniata 58

SELINSGROVE, Pa. ? A late comeback from the Juniata College women?s basketball team came up just short as the Eagles had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 54-48 set-back to Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove Tuesday night.

Juniata seniors Katie O?Brien (South Western/Hanover) and Kristen Kirk (Newport/Newport) were both in double figures but it wasn?t enough as the Eagles dropped to 12-12 overall and 5-8 in the conference standings. Susquehanna used a balanced offensive attack to improve to 13-11 and also sport a 5-8 record. With one conference game remaining Juniata and Susquehanna are currently tied with Albright and Elizabethtown for the final postseason spot in the Commonwealth Conference. Juniata would earn a postseason berth on Saturday if it can knock off Albright in its season finale and if Lebanon Valley would defeat Susquehanna.

After holding a lead early in the second half, Susquehanna gradual increased its lead over the final 10 minutes, eventually claiming an eight-point advantage with 3:34 left on a pair of Courtney Thibeault rebounds. The Eagles cut into the deficit on a Kirk three and an O?Brien free throw, only to have a Thibeault layup extend the lead back to six with 1:31 left.

Juniata?s comeback attempt was not yet finished as O?Brien converted on the team?s next trip, and then after forcing a turnover Jess Winemiller (Dallastown/York) converted an offensive put-back to bring Juniata to within two with 35 seconds left. A pair of Jen Clark free throws put the home team back in front by four, but Juniata was unable to convert on its next two offensive trips as the Crusaders hung on for the win.

The game was close throughout as Juniata never led by more than four in the second half, and the game was tied on seven occasions. Defense was the story for both teams, particularly in the second half as the Eagles converted just nine field goals and limited the Crusaders to just eight made shots from the field.

After a back-and-forth early portion of the first half, Juniata put together a 7-0 run sparked by O?Brien and Kirk that gave the Eagles a nine-point lead. Susquehanna rallied, pulling to within two before halftime, setting up the tight second half.

O?Brien scored a game high 19 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds for his second-consecutive double-double. Kirk finished with 15 points as she hit all three of Juniata?s made three-point field goals. Ali Meckey (Bishop Carroll/Ebensburg) led the team with four assists.

Thibeault was the only Crusader in double figures as she scored 10 points. Bri McNallen scored nine points and added 11 rebounds. Ruth Williamson and Sarah Jane Kalejta each had five assists.

Juniata hosts Albright on Saturday for the team?s regular-season finale.

JUNIATA (48): Winemiller 3 3-3 9, O?Brien 9 1-3 19, Meckey 2 0-0 4, Walsh 0 0-0 0, Kirk 6 0-0 15, Callas 0 0-0 0, Werner 0 0-0 0, Ashcraft 0 1-2 1, Snoby 0 0-0 0. Totals ? 20 5-8 48.

SUSQUEHANNA (54): Clark 2 3-8 8, Thibeault 3 4-4 10, McNallen 3 3-5 9, Williamson 2 2-2 7, Schneck 2 1-4 5, Henderson 0 0-0 0, Houseal 3 1-1 7, Kalejta 1 2-4 4, Smith 2 0-0 4, Marshall 0 0-0 0, Loughran 0 0-0 0. Totals ? 18 16-28 54.

Halftime: Juniata 25-23. 3-point goals: Juniata 3 (Kirk 3); Susquehanna 2 (Clark, Williamson). Assists: 11 (Meckey 4); Susquehanna 13 (Williamson, Kalejta 5). Rebounds: Juniata 39 (O?Brien 11); Susquehanna 31 (McNallen 11).
Records: Juniata (12-12, 5-8 Commonwealth), Susquehanna (13-11, 5-8 Commonwealth).


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