HUNTINGDON, Pa.-The Juniata men's basketball team lost a shootout against visiting Catholic, 88-79, Wednesday evening in Memorial Gymnasium.
Noah Neville (Westminster, Md. / North Carroll) found Paul Martello (York, Pa. / York Catholic) open in the corner for a three to open the scoring for Juniata a minute and half into the game. Following a Catholic bucket, Neville found the open man again as he found Jake Holsopple (Duncansville, Pa. / Hollidaysburg) for a layup inside. Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa. / Bishop Carroll) found himself all alone on the right wing, took a dribble and fired a three to make it 8-2.
Both teams stayed hot over the next eight minutes, as with seven and half minutes to go Catholic held a 28-23 lead as neither team could stop the other. Martello found Neville for a baseline jumper, the Cardinals responded with another three before Martinazzi converted another triple for the Eagles off a pass from Nathan Markey (York, Pa. / Central York). Markey found Martello on the right wing for another three to tie things at 31-31 with five minutes to go in the half.
Following a Martinazzi steal, Cameron Keck Waynesboro, Pa. / Waynesboro) drove from the left corner into the paint and dropped it off to Marcus Hall (York, Pa. / Trinity). He laid it in to give Juniata the lead back. The teams continued to trade haymakers as Martello and Markey each made another three, with Markey adding a foul shot in the last 20 seconds to tie things at 40-40. The Cardinals scored once more to send the Eagles into the locker room down two, 42-40 at halftime.
Catholic shot a blistering 68.2% from the floor and 61.5% from three while Juniata shot 57.1% from the floor and 54.5% from three in the first half.
Markey opened the second half with a deep three from the right wing off a feed from Holsopple to give Juniata the lead back. The teams went back and forth, with Martinazzi scoring from the midrange and a nice high arcing reverse layup off the glass. On the next offensive possession, he blew by his defender with a right to left crossover and laid it in on the left side to pull JC within one, 50-49.
The Cardinals slowly pulled ahead, with a three and two foul shots putting them, 66-57 and Juniata called timeout. Martello drilled back to back threes, one from the left corner and the next on the right wing on the break to make it 66-63. The Cardinals slowly built their lead again to go up by nine with six minutes to go. The Eagles got within four twice, first on a three by Keck and then on a Holsopple layup over the next two minutes.
With a little over three minutes to go, Martinazzi drilled a jumper and nailed a three over the next minute to get the Eagles within four two more times, but they couldn't close the gap as Catholic pulled away down the stretch.
Juniata shot 60.4% from the floor and 50.0% from three. It was their best shooting performance this season, and the most threes they have made all year.
Juniata will return to action at Moravian, Saturday at 4:00.