HUNTINGDON, Pa.-The Juniata women's basketball team needed a last second bucket and miss by visiting Catholic at the buzzer to hang on for a 60-58-win, Wednesday night in Memorial Gymnasium in front of a rambunctious crowd.
Gracie Stauffer (Loysville, Pa. / West Perry) scored the first Eagle bucket of the game two and half minutes in with a free throw to make it 3-1, Cardinals. The Catholic 2-3 zone caused Juniata problems as the visitors forced several turnovers. Juniata's defense managed to prevent too many fast break points, and a Larissa Leonard (Three Springs, Pa. / Southern Huntingdon) three off a find from Stauffer made it 5-4. On the next possession, Kaeana Rebert (Hanover, Pa. / South Western) grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in to give the Eagles their first lead of the game. Leonard drilled her second three this time from the left wing off a pass from Grace Long (Harrisburg, Pa. / Central Dauphin). Two quick scores from the visitors made it 11-9 with just under two minutes to go. On the defensive end, Long poked the ball loose, scooped it up and took it down the floor. She eventually got the ball back on the left wing, froze her defender with a pump fake, drove left and pulled up from about 12 feet and swished a short jumper. The Cardinals scored one more time to make it 13-11 JC after one.
The Cardinals opened the second quarter scoring five of the first seven points to stake themselves to a 16-15 lead in the first five minutes of the second quarter. Rebert swung the ball to Megan Haines (Bloomsburg, Pa. / Bloomsburg) for a triple to tie things at 18-18. Cassie Mock (Martinsburg, Pa. / Central Martinsburg) sunk a three from the left wing to push the Eagles back ahead by three. Catholic pulled within one before Madison Colyer (Newville, Pa. / Big Spring) made a baseline jumper to push the lead back to three. Two Leonard foul shots gave the Eagles a four-point edge in the final 15 seconds, but Catholic scored in the final five seconds of the half as Juniata led by just two at half, 25-23.
Leonard opened the second half scoring with her third trey off a pass from Rebert. The Cardinals countered with an elbow jumper before Stauffer found Rebert for a midrange j. After getting a stop, Averie Hess (Jersey Shore, Pa. / Jersey Shore) drove inside and hit a scoop layup to make it 32-27 with five minutes to go. Catholic rattled off six quick points to get within one. A pair of Long free throws expanded the lead back to three. Juniata slowly added to their lead in the final minutes of the third, with two Stauffer foul shots to push the lead back to seven before the Cardinals again struck in the final seconds of the quarter to make it 42-37 heading into the fourth.
A Rebert two and Leonard's fourth triple had the Eagles up by 10 with seven and half minutes to go. Two minutes later the Cardinals had the lead whittled down to one. Stauffer rebounded her own miss and put it back to make it 47-46. The Cardinals split a pair of foul shots, Stauffer scored inside again after she sealed her defender and Rebert the lobbed a pass over the top of the defense. Catholic scored the next four points to tie things at 51 with two and half minutes remaining. Leonard split a pair of free throws, the Cardinals responded with an and-one layup and the free throw put them ahead 54-52.
On the next Eagle position, Rebert drove from the right side to the baseline before quickly pulling up and converting a short jumper to tie the score. After a stop, Colyer found Stauffer down low for a bucket inside to make it 56-54 with a minute to go. Following the Cardinal timeout, Long stepped in front of a Catholic entry pass to get the ball back for JC. Catholic fouled, and Leonard split a pair to make it 57-54. Catholic came down and scored a quick two. The Eagles missed two foul shots, and the Cardinals corralled the rebound before they called timeout. They scored on a quick layup to go up by on with 13 seconds.
After some confusion when the referee's thought the Eagles had called timeout when in fact they hadn't, they had signaled that the Catholic player traveled so JC was not penalized. Juniata got the ball in to the Leonard and she went racing up the floor before finding Stauffer for a layup while being hacked on the arm.
She made the foul shot to push the lead to two. Catholic got a final look at a three from the right wing, but it was wide of the mark.
Juniata outrebounded Catholic 42-22 and the Juniata had a 21-8 advantage in points off the bench.
The Eagles will travel to conference leader #12 Scranton, Saturday at 2:00.