Livoti Scores Winning Basket as Juniata Women Upset Catholic

Kelsey Livoti scored the winning basket with three seconds left.
Kelsey Livoti scored the winning basket with three seconds left.

HUNTINGDON, PA- Kelsey Livoti (Altoona/Bishop Guilfoyle) scored the game-winning basket with three seconds left as the women's basketball team came from behind to knock off Catholic 77-76 on Wednesday night at Memorial Gymnasium. It's the first Eagles win over the Cardinals since 2012. Juniata improves its record to 6-11 and 4-4 in the Landmark. Catholic's record now stands at 12-5 and 6-2 in the Landmark.

 Juniata trailed 76-75 with 21 seconds remaining to play. The Cardinals inbounded the ball but Michelle DeSantis would be stripped by Brianna Wasser (Ebensburg/Central Cambria) and Juniata quickly called a timeout. Livoti scored under the hoop as she was surrounded by Catholic defenders.


"It was really good to knock off a team as good as Catholic," said head coach Danny Young-Uhrich. This is a big win and any win is a big win for us. This one is huge. It has to have given our girls confidence to see how well they can play."

 JC started the game attacking from the outside as they attempted six three-point shots in less than four minutes of game time. A 14-4 run put the Eagles ahead 14-6 at 15:08. Catholic closed the gap and tied the contest up at 14-all at 13:33 but a 12-3 spurt by Juniata gave it its biggest lead of the night, 27-17, with 8:38 to play in the half.
The Eagles looked poised to add to their lead and further separate themselves from their opponent but Catholic showed why they are one of the top teams in the Landmark. A 14-4 run erased JC's lead and tied the game at 31-31 at 5:08. Juniata went on a 10-1 run, aided by three-point field goals from Katy Leamer (Bellwood/Bellwood-Antis) and Natalie Hager (Franklin/Franklin) to go ahead by nine points, 41-32, at 3:14. A 13-3 run by the Cardinals, however, gave them their first lead of the night, 45-42, with 31 seconds remaining in the half. A jumper from Danielle Atkinson (Lancaster/Lancaster Catholic) with 13 seconds to play narrowed the Catholic lead to 45-44 at halftime.

Catholic led for all of three seconds of the second half. Following a free throw from Maria Photiades (Abottstown/Delone Catholic) at 16:15, the score was tied at 49-49 but a 15-5 run by the Cardinals gave them a nine-point advantage, 64-55, with 9:48 left on the game clock.

The Cardinals lead was still nine points, 66-57, at 7:47. JC kept pace with Catholic and would not let the game slip away. Bailey Swogger (Bellwood/Bellwood-Antis) nailed a three-point shot at the 5:05 mark to get the Eagles to within three points, 69-66. Two free throws from Payton Smith gave Catholic a five-point advantage but Atkinson's layup at 4:31 again got the Eagles to within three points.
It was a two-possession game at 1:56. Two free throws from Leamer got the Eagles to within four points, 74-70, with 1:43 to play. The Cardinals missed a three-point attempt but got the rebound. Swogger came up with a big steal with 54 seconds remaining and Juniata called timeout.

Following the timeout, Livoti scored a jumper to make it 74-72 with 39 seconds left. A foul on Photiades put Catholic's Michelle DeSantis on the foul line. She made both free throws and the Catholic lead stood at 76-72 at 31 seconds. After another JC timeout, Olivia Halfpenny (McVeytown/Mifflin County) sank a three-point shot with 21 seconds left to get the Eagles to within a point of tying it all up. From there, Wasser's big steal led to the game-winning basket from Livoti. On Halfpenny's shot, Young-Urich noted, "We draw up a lot of plays for her especially at the end of the game to knock down a three and she came up big tonight."

Leamer led the Eagles with 14 points. Atkinson added 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Livoti finished with 12 points. Wasser led the bench with nine points and also chipped in five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a blocked shot.
"I think we are finding roles for people," noted Young-Uhrich. "It was a lot of fun to see our team come together. Different people stepped up. Bri is one that sticks out for me. The last two games she has been a sparkplug for us."
Juniata shot a season-high 47.7% from the floor (31-of-65). The 77 points are also a season-high. The Eagles led in the paint, 36-30, on second chance points, 15-14, in bench points, 24-23, and outrebounded Catholic, 37-36.

The Eagles travel to Bethlehem to face Moravian on Saturday. Game time will be at 2 p.m.