(Posted January 6, 2007)

STEVENSON, Md. - A dominating defensive effort in the first half was enough to propel the Juniata College women\'s basketball team to a 55-45 victory over host Villa Julie College on the opening day of the Legg Mason Winter Classic. The Eagles, who improved to 10-2, will play in the tournament championship game on Sunday. Villa Julie fell to 5-4 with the loss. Claudia McDowell (Juniata Valley/Alexandria) scored a team-high 15 points for Juniata, six of which came in the first half as the Eagles built a large lead keyed by their defense. Juniata limited the home team to just 13 points and five field goals in the opening 20 minutes. A McDowell jumper at the 7:35 mark of the half put Juniata in front 14-12. The Eagles then held the Mustangs to just one free throw for the rest of the half and forced six turnovers as Juniata built a 28-13 lead going into the locker room. Five different players scored for Juniata during the closing run. The Eagles extended the lead to 17 points on a hoop from Jill Walsh (Ferndale/Johnstown) to start the second half. Juniata maintained its double-digit lead for most of the half before Villa Julie put together a 7-0 run sparked by two threes from Tara Galvin that pulled the home team within seven at 43-36 with 7:53 left in the game. Juniata responded with a pair of baskets from McDowell and one from Kelly Rotan (Hammonton/Acton, N.J.) to push the lead back to 13, and Villa Julie got no closer than nine the rest of the way. Juniata shot just 34 percent from the field in the game, but outrebounded Villa Julie 38-31 and forced 24 turnovers. The Eagles were also nearly perfect from the foul line as they were 17 of 18 at the line. McDowell added seven rebounds, five steals and three assists to go with her 15 points. Rotan was also in double figures for the Blue and Gold as she poured in a career high 14 points. Jess Winemiller (Dallastown/York) grabbed nine rebounds to pace Juniata while Courtney Callas (Freeport/Sarver) matched McDowell with a team-high three assists. Cara Hill led all players with 17 points for Villa Julie, while also leading the team with eight rebounds and five assists. Galvin and Kim Hutchinson each chipped in with eight points for the home team. Juniata will face the winner of the first-round game between Albright College and Shenandoah University. ###

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