(Posted December 8, 2007)

GRANTHAM, Pa. - The Juniata College men's basketball team picked a good time to turn its best free-throw shooting performance of the young 2007-08 season, going 18-of-21 at the line on its way to a 76-66 win over Messiah College, in the championship game of Messiah's Falcon Alumni/Hampton Inn Tournament, Saturday afternoon in Grantham, Pa. The Eagles (5-4, 0-1 Landmark) went 8-of-9 at the stripe over the final minute-and-a-half to successfully protect a lead that reached 16 points at its widest. Only a three-pointer by Messiah's Drew Sneeringer in the game's waning seconds pulled the Falcons to within 10 of Juniata. Leading 32-31 at the break, Juniata opened the second stanza with an 11-2 run to pull away to a 43-33 by the 15:00 mark of the half. Brian Cannon (Fallston, Md./Fallston) drained a pair of three-pointers and made a layup during the run, on his way to finishing with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting and Tournament MVP honors. Messiah struggled to get back into the game from that point on. After a layup by Jon Tundel (Lewistown, Pa./Indian Valley) put the Juniata lead at 45-35 with 13:43 to play in the game, Messiah went just 1-of-11 from the floor over the next eight minutes. The Falcons didn't break out of their shooting slump until a jumper by Jamie Yoder with just 5:59 remaining. However Juniata was unable to completely capitalize on the Messiah shooting woes, going just 1-of-7 from the field during that same stretch. Juniata's lead reached 16 points, 69-53 with 58 seconds remaining, after Garrett Bull (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) completed a conventional three-point play. Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek) finished with 17 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and a 6-of-8 effort at the line. Kyle Opitz (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine Richland) rounded out the list of Juniata double-digit scorers with 12 points, and was named to the All-Tournament Team with Cannon. Justin Baker (Nanty Glo, Pa./Bishop Carroll) pulled down a team-high six boards. Juniata went 24-of-55 from the field (.436), only slightly off Messiah's 25-of-52 (.481) shooting clip. The difference maker proved to be fouls; Messiah was whistled for 25 fouls, sending the Eagles to the line 21 times. Juniata was called for just 13 fouls, yielding only nine free-throw attempts for the Falcons. Juniata will now take a break for exams, returning to action on Wednesday, Dec. 19, when they begin a four-day to southern Ontario for three exhibition games. The Eagles will open the trip against Mohawk College (Hamilton, Ontario), followed by a game on Thursday, Dec. 20, against the University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario). Juniata will end the trip on Saturday, Dec. 22, in St. Catharines, Ontario, against Brock University. -30-

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