Career Highs Lead Men To Conference Final
(Posted February 21, 2007)
HUNTINGDON, Pa. - The Juniata College men\'s basketball team will play for the Commonwealth Conference Championship, and a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament, for the first time as the second-seed Eagles held home court and claimed a 76-64 win over third-seed Susquehanna University in a Commonwealth Conference Semifinal Wednesday evening. Juniata (16-10) will move on to play the winner of the semifinal between top seed Messiah College and fourth-seed Widener University. Chris Jasiota (Oil City/Oil City) matched his career high with 20 points to lead four Eagles in double figures as Juniata rallied from an eight-point second-half deficit to earn the win. Andy Gaebel paced Susquehanna (16-10) with 14 points as the Crusaders who were held to 31 percent shooting in the second half after blistering the nets at 56 percent in the first stanza. The momentum of the game turned in the early stages of the second half after Susquehanna built its seven-point halftime advantage to eight points after a three-point play from Joel Patch on a breakaway dunk. Juniata answered with a 11-0 run, sparked by an Jasiota hoop and then a three by Aaron Chamberlain (Tussey Mountain/Wood) that put Juniata in front by three. The teams traded the lead back-and-forth twice before a three-point play from Kyle Opitz (Pine-Richland/Gibsonia) gave Juniata a 42-41 lead with 12:24 left in the contest. Juniata never trailed after that point as they went on an 11-2 run to take a 10-point edge with 7:23 left. After the lead grew to 12 on a Jasiota hoop, Susquehanna whittled away, pulling with four points after a Kevin Cuff hoop with 3:14 remaining. Chamberlain hit one of two free throws on Juniata\'s next trip and then Nick Hager (Franklin/Franklin) buried a three to push the lead to eight with 2:24 left on the clock. Susquehanna got no closer than six the rest of the way. After as sluggish first half in which Susquehanna\'s defense limited the home team to 39 percent shooting, Juniata shot 53 percent in the second half. Both team started slowly in the opening 20 minutes as Juniata held a 14-13 edge with 7:46 left in the first stanza. The Crusaders then found their offense as a three from Cuff and a late jumper from Patch sent Susquehanna into halftime leading by seven. Jasiota\'s offense kept Juniata in the contest in the first half as he scored 10 of his 20 points in the first stanza. Brent Ferko (Freeport/Sarver) also matched his career high with 17 points and both players grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Brian Cannon (Fallston/Fallston, Md.) chipped in 16 points while Opitz scored 11 as he went 9-of-11 from the foul line. Ferko also led the Eagles with five assists, three blocks and a pair of steals. Gaebel was 5-of-9 from the field and 2-of-3 from three-point land for his 14 points. Patch was also in double figures with 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Bryan Majors paced the Crusaders with five assists, while Cuff scored nine points and grabbed a team-best eight boards. Juniata split its regular-season meetings with both Widener and Messiah. The Eagles were the only team to beat Messiah during the regular season. ###
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