Juniata Men Win ECAC Opener
HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Juniata College men's basketball advanced to the semifinals of the ECAC Division III South Region Tournament with a 50-42 quarterfinal win over Penn State Behrend, Wednesday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.
The Eagles will advance to the ECAC South semifinals, where they will face Alvernia University. Game time will be 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center in Huntingdon. Fourth-seeded Alvernia advanced with a 78-64 win over Wilkes University.
Second-seeded La Roche College will tip-off against Catholic University of America at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in the second semifinal game. The winners will meet in Sunday's championship game at 2:00 p.m.
Juniata (19-9), the top seed in the ECAC South Region, shot just 39 percent from the field, but successfully bottled up eighth-seeded Penn State Behrend (16-12) and kept the Lions off-stride in a defensive battle.
The Lions shot just 35 percent from the floor, their worst shooting performance over the last 20 games and one of only two games in which Behrend has shot below 40 percent.
And while Behrend's leading scorer, 6-9 center Russ Conley, led with 16 points, less than a point off his season average, the remaining four Lion starters are finished well below their season-long marks.
For the Eagles, sophomore forward Brian Scholly (State College, Pa./State College Area) led with 17 points, his best scoring effort since netting 19 versus Drew back on January 27, on a 5-of-10 shooting performance with five 3-pointers.
Scholly was the lone Eagle in double-digits. Sophomore Kevin Stapleton (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) just missed double figures and finished with nine points, while senior Austin Ankney (Somerset, Pa./Somerset) charted eight points.
Alex Raymond's (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) streak of 22 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer came to an end, as the junior guard went 0-of-5 from the field.
However Raymond was 4-of-4 at the free-throw line, with all four foul shots coming in the final minute. After a Scholly trey with 1:13 on the clock that gave Juniata a 46-42 lead, Behrend had to begin fouling in a bid to catch Juniata.
Unfortunately, they put Raymond – the 13th-best free-throw shooting in Division III – on the line, and he sank a pair of one-and-ones to help Juniata extend its lead down the stretch.
That capped a second half which saw Behrend hold a seven-point lead, 36-29, as late as the 11:20 mark of the frame. Juniata answered with a 9-2 run over the next four minutes, knotting the game at 38-38 on a Scholly 3-pointer.
The game would be tied two more times before the Eagles finally took the lead for good on a Nate Higgins (St. Mary's, Pa./Elk County Catholic) foul shot with 3:04 remaining, putting Juniata in front 43-42.
Raymond dished out four assists, while Scholly finished the night with three steals. Stapleton, Scholly, and Higgins each had five assists for Juniata, but the Eagles were out-worked on the boards to the tune of 33 to 30.
Story provided by Juniata Sports Information