HUNTINGDON, Pa.- Memorial Gymnasium was packed on Wednesday night as the Juniata men's basketball team welcomed Landmark rival Susquehanna. The River Hawks got out to a big lead in the first half and despite a JC comeback in the second, the Eagles in the end dropped a 74-59 decision to SU.
Susquehanna, which came into tonight's contest ranked #14 in the latest D3hoops.com poll, improves to 14-2 overall and 4-1 in the Landmark. Juniata falls to 9-7 and 1-4 in league play.
The Eagles struggled in the first period as they went 7:13 at one point with a converted field goal. The score stood at 13-8 following a jump shot from Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll) at 14:36. Susquehanna then went on a 23-6 run and JC was 1-for-13 from the floor. SU's lead stood at 45-22 at halftime.
Despite the large deficit, the Eagles would not give up. A 9-4 run to begin the second half made the score 49-31 at 16:08. JC cut the deficit to 13 points, 55-42, at 11:48. Trailing 63-46 with 9:10 to play, Juniata went on a 9-0 run, with scoring coming from both Lee and Damon Rickens (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) and the lead for the River Hawks shrunk to eight points, 63-55, with 4:49 left.
The Eagles were able to whittle the SU advantage down to seven points, 66-59, with 2:29 left on the clock. That would be as close as Juniata would be able to get as the River Hawks used an 8-0 run down the stretch and held JC to 0-for-6 shooting to come away with the win.
After shooting just 29% overall in the first half, the Eagles turned it around with a 51.7% performance in the second period. JC outscored SU 37-29.
Leading the way for the Eagles was Lee and his 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting, 15 of which came in the second half. Seth Brewer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) added 13 points.
Rebounds favored Susquehanna 34-31. The Eagles committed just eight turnovers in the game, which is their lowest of the season.
Juniata next travels to Bethlehem on Saturday to take on Moravian. Tip-off is at 4:00 p.m.