HUNTINGDON, Pa., The Juniata College women's basketball team nearly erased a 17-point deficit, but was unable to put Susquehanna away on Wednesday night. The Eagles pulled within two late, but came up short, falling to the Crusaders 73-66 in Memorial Gymnasium.
Senior Kelsey Livoti (Altoona, PA / Bishop Guilfoyle) led the way for the Eagles. She finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. Katy Leamer (Bellwood, PA / Bellwood-Antis) scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The sophomore made two crucial three-pointers to help Juniata rally late in the second half.
Liz Wortman (Bellefonte, PA / Bellefonte) and Olivia Halfpenny (McVeytown, PA / Mifflin County) were feeling it from downtown, each making three threes and finishing with 11 points. Wortman played with great intensity and was a major spark off of the bench for Juniata. Head coach Danny Young-Uhrich talked about her play after the game, "She had two great days of practice. She had a great mindset Monday and Tuesday. I think she, and Kelsey in particular, they're starting to see the end. I think that is a lot of motivation. They're playing like this is it. It's inspirational to the young ones, and I like to see it as well. That tells me that it means a lot for them."
After a slow start, Juniata began fighting their way back into the game. Down early, the Eagles battled back and came within four points after Leamer sank a trey with 1:32 left in the half. Down 7 points at the break, Juniata refused to let this game slip away and nearly came away with a victory against one of the better teams in the conference. Susquehanna built a 12-point advantage late, but the Eagles kept chipping away. Halfpenny made two clutch threes and added a pair at the line to make it a two-point game at 66-64. The Eagles had chances to tie the game afterwards, but were unable to do so.
Despite earning the loss, the Blue and Gold had one of their strongest games of the season. Young-Urich was proud with how her team responded, "We gave a great team a run, a pretty respectable run. Fighting and scrapping is what our team didn't do at the beginning of the year. I told the girls that if this was the team that we had five, six, even 12 games into the year, it would have been a 30-point loss, but we kept plugging away. They definitely fought, put themselves in a good position and that's all I can ask."
Juniata is now 8-13, 6-6 on the season. The Eagles will host #14 Scranton on Saturday in game one of a men's and women's doubleheader. The Royals will prove to be another challenge for Juniata, but this is a talented team that can compete with anyone when playing the way they are capable of doing so, "Its amazing, what we can do, what the possibilities are if we can keep putting it together. We're halfway there. We're leaps and bounds better than where we were at the beginning of the year. This team is very talented. It's amazing how good we can be, and I hope we get to see the best from this team at some point this season."
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