Stapleton's outside shooting leads Juniata past Ithaca in Doc Greene title game

HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Juniata College men's basketball survived a 3-point onslaught from visiting Ithaca College, capturing the Comfort Inn Doc Greene Invitational championship with a 68-65 win over the Bombers on Saturday afternoon at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

Juniata (8-2) shot a season-high 52.9 percent (27-of-51) from the field, including a 7-of-17 mark from beyond the arc, on their way to the win.

However Ithaca kept pace with Juniata behind its 12-of-34 effort from 3-point range, led by Jordan Marcus' eight treys on his way to a game high 28 points.

The Eagles' Kevin Stapleton (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) won Tournament MVP honors with his team-best and season-high 18 points, with all his points coming on six 3-pointers. Dan Sekulski (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone Area) chipped in with 14 points and dished out seven assists.

Austin Ankney (Somerset, Pa./Somerset) came off the bench to score 12 for the Eagles, while Nate Higgins (St. Mary's, Pa./Elk County Catholic) netted 10 points – his first double-digit game in the last three outings.

Alex Raymond (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) handed out eight assists while Jeremy Hays (McMechen, W.Va./John Marshall) logged seven, contributing to Juniata's season high-matching 23 assists.

Juniata broke a 53-53 tie at the 9:40 mark of the second half on a Lucas Mellott (Warfordsburg, Pa./Southern Fulton) layup, with Stapleton putting the Eagles in front by five on a trey just over 40 seconds later.

Ithaca (3-6) made it a one-possession affair with a Marcus trey at the 7:35 mark, and he repeated the feat with 5:40 remaining with a 3-pointer that pulled the Bombers to within one point, 62-61. 

A pair of Higgins foul shots extended Juniata's lead to three points, 64-61, with 5:10 showing on the game clock, and a Hays jumper stretched the advantage to five points barely a minute later. Ankney's layup with 3:40 remaining gave the Eagles a 68-61 lead, their widest of the second half.

Ithaca's Marcus converted a pair of free throws and Andrei Oztemel added a layup to cut the Juniata lead to 68-65, with 3:05 left to play.

However neither team managed a single point over the final three play, with the Eagles and the Bombers combining for four turnovers, a 0-for-2 mark at the charity stripe, and a 0-of-3 effort from the floor down the stretch.

Oztemel finished with 14 for the Bombers, while Frank Mitchell netted 11 with nine rebounds in the loss.

Raymond earned All-Tournament honors, along with Ithaca's Marcus and Oztemel, Penn State Mont Alto's Kevin King, and New Jersey City University's Kaihrique Irick.  New Jersey City University knocked off Mont Alto, 77-48, in Saturday afternoon's consolation game.

Juniata will have a 19-day break before it returns to action, when it travels to Lexington, Va., to face Gettysburg College on Thursday, Dec. 29, in the Washington & Lee Invitational.

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