HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata men's basketball team saw its four-game winless streak come to an end as the Eagles defeated visiting Goucher 58-52 on Wednesday night at Memorial Gym. The win evens JC's overall record at 12-12 and improves its Landmark record to 4-9. The Gophers slip to 5-19 and 2-11 in the conference.
The two teams played evenly in the opening minutes of the first half. The Gophers were able to pull ahead after tying the game at 10-10. Chris Outing hit back-to-back three point shots to give the visitors a 16-10 lead with 11:44 showing on the game clock. A 9-4 Juniata run got the Eagles to within one point of tying, 20-19, with 7:36 remaining in the half. The Eagles could get no closer than two points as they went into the locker room down 31-29.
Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll) opened the second half with a layup to tie the game at 31-all. Following a pair of free throws from Outing, a trey from Trevor Clune (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) gave the Eagles a 34-33 advantage. After the lead changed hands three times, a 10-0 run by the Eagles gave them a 44-35 lead with 14:01 remaining in the game.
Goucher was able to knock the JC lead to 46-41 with 10:49 left to play. Paul Martello's (York, Pa./York Catholic) three-point shot at 7:55 started an 8-2 Juniata run that increased the lead to 54-43 with 5:20 left on the clock. The Eagles looked like they were going to run away with the game but the Gophers made it a two-possession contest with 3:09 left and after Lee answered for JC with a layup at 2:34, Uvan Stewart countered for the Gophers with a three pointer to make it 56-52 with 1:15 to go.
The Gophers twice had a chance to cut the Juniata lead to one point but missed on its three-point attempts both times. The score remained 65-52 until Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa./Bishop Carroll) sank two free throws with six ticks left to ice the game and secure the win for the Eagles.
"What we did was we finally won like Juniata wins, which is playing defense," said head coach Greg Curley after the game. "We defended and rebounded and got key stops and that's the difference. We have lost a lot of close games this year when we don't get key stops and hopefully we learn from this and understand how we are going to have to play to win,"
Lee led Juniata with 24 points on 12-of-18 shooting. He also was the team's leading rebounder with seven boards. Damon Rickens (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) added 10 points and six rebounds. Clune chipped in eight points. Martinazzi finished with seven points, three rebounds, and one steal. Making his first career start, Martello scored five points and dished out five assists.
The Eagles shot 45.5% from the floor on the night and held the Gophers to 30.5%. Both teams had a 33.3% three-point percentage. JC was outrebounded 38-36. Juniata led in points in the paint 30-22 and in bench points 17-4.
Juniata travels to New Jersey to play Drew this Saturday to wrap up the regular season. Game time will be at 4:00 p.m.