HUNTINGDON, PA- A 10-point halftime lead grew to more than 30 points in the second half as the Juniata men's basketball team defeated visiting Eastern 87-54 on Saturday at Memorial Gymnasium. The victory evens Juniata's record at 7-7 while Eastern falls to 4-9.
Eastern started the game with back-to-back three-point shots to go up 6-0. JC settled down with six straight points to tie the contest up at 6-all at 16:19.
Eastern University went on a 10-2 run to surge ahead 16-8 with 11:28 showing on the game clock. The game was tied 22-22 with 5:16 to play in the first half when a 16-6 run by JC to end the frame gave Juniata a 38-28 lead going into the locker room. During the run, the Eagles hit four three-point shots with two coming from Damon Rickens (Altoona, PA/Bishop Guilfoyle).
Juniata held a 40-33 advantage with 18:41 showing on the clock in the second half. A 30-6 run by JC that covered nearly 12 minutes of game time was the difference maker in the game as JC took its biggest lead of the day, 72-38, with 6:03 left to play. During the run, the JC defense held Eastern without a basket for nearly three and half minutes.
Juniata dominated its opponent in nearly every facet of the game. JC led 44-28 in rebounds and 6-1 in blocked shots. JC outscored Eastern in the paint, 38-16, on second chance points, 16-6, and in bench points, 45-28.
"I'm really happy with how we finished this week," said head coach Greg Curley after the game. " I think we have shown commitment to the defensive end and understanding better how to play together."
The 87 points scored by the Eagles were the most all season. The team's 54.1% field goal percentage is the second-best performance and the 45.5% three-point percentage is also the second-best. Juniata's 10 three-point baskets are the most in game so far in 2014-15.
Four Juniata players scored in double figures. Kyle Koehler (Chester Springs, PA/Devon Prep) scored 11 points and added five rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Nate Ogle (Falls Church, VA/George Mason) added 11 points and six boards. Justin Fleming (Richmond, VA/Benedictine College Prep) contributed 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists. Rickens scored a season-high 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Brandon Drenning (Altoona, PA/Bishop Guilfoyle) saw a season-high 13 minutes off the bench and chipped in nine points which all came via the three-pointer.
"I'm happy for the guys more than anything," said Curley. "I felt that they deserved to win this game by the work that have put in and that doesn't always happen. Any time you can that you are excited and I think the guys feel good when they do something positive. Hopefully it gives us confidence moving into conference play the rest of the way."
Juniata continues its homestand on Wednesday when it returns to Landmark Conference play. The Eagles host Susquehanna at 7 p.m. at Memorial Gymnasium.