MADISON, NJ- The Juniata men's basketball team traveled to New Jersey for its final regular season game of the season on Saturday. The Eagles held off Drew 71-67.
The Eagles led the Rangers for over half of the first period. Juniata's lead was as much as eight points, 19-11, with 12:45 showing on the clock. A 10-2 run by Drew would tie the contest at 21-21 at 8:11. A Seth Brewer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) layup gave the lead back to JC but the Rangers answered with a three-point shot from Riley Collins with just under seven minutes left to to go up 24-23. A pair of free throws from Dan Roibal upped the advantage to 26-23. An 11-2 Eagle run put Juniata ahead 34-28 with 3:07 left. The Rangers knocked the lead down to one point, 34-33, with 1:28 remaining, where the score stood at halftime.
The second half got off to a rough start as both teams combined to go 0-for-8 from the field. Marcus Lee's (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll) layup at 17:10 ended the drought and was a part of a 15-4 run that extended the Eagle lead to 49-37 with 11:20 to play in the game.
Drew rallied but Juniata was still able to stay ahead. A Brewer layup with 4:10 remaining put the Eagles on top 65-55. It was still an eight-point lead, 70-62, after Trevor Clune (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) sank two free throws with 1:01 to go. Two Riley Collins free throws narrowed the deficit to 70-64 with 54 seconds left and Roibal's traditional three-point play with 41 seconds left made it a 70-67 game. Needing to foul to get possession back, Drew did so to put Paul Martello (York, Pa./York Catholic) on the charity stripe. Martello made his first but missed his second and Drew's Darius Reiter came down with the rebound. Collins heaved a desperation three-point attempt but it was off the mark and the Eagles were able to walk away with the victory.
All but one starter reached double digits in scoring for Juniata. Lee and Brewer both had 13 points to lead the Eagles. Clune scored 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Martello, making his second career start, ended with 11 points, four rebounds, four steals, and one assist.
JC shot 46.7% (28-of-60) from the floor overall. At the free throw line, the Eagles were good on 81.8% (9-of-11) of their attempts.
The rebounding battle favored Juniata 38-36. JC also had a strong presence in the paint with a 38-28 advantage.
The Eagles now wait it see if they qualify for ECAC postseason competition. Juniata will learn if it will participate when teams are announced on February 27.