HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Some clutch free throw shooting down the stretch led Juniata College to a 76-68 win over visiting Catholic University of America, in Landmark Conference men's basketball action Friday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.
Juniata improved to 16-7 overall and 8-4 in the Landmark Conference, and moved alone into second place in the Landmark standings. Catholic fell to 16-7 overall with the loss, 6-6 in the Landmark.
Sophomore Kevin Stapleton (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) drained a pair of free throws to break the game's 11th deadlock and give Juniata a 66-64 lead with 2:06 left in the game. After a Catholic offensive foul and turnover, Eagle guard Alex Raymond (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) had a layup with an "and-one" at the 1:28 mark to stretch the Juniata advantage to 69-64.
Brian Scholly (State College, Pa./State College Area) hit the back end of two shots to extend Juniata's lead to 70-64 with 35 seconds showing on the clock. The two teams traded single foul shots over the next eight seconds, keeping the margin at six points in Juniata's favor.
Catholic continued to put Juniata on the free-throw line to defend its lead, and Raymond responded by sinking four-in-a-row in the span of five seconds to keep Juniata's advantage at three possessions. Scholly added a single foul shot in the waning seconds to give the Eagles the final eight-point victory.
Juniata ended the night going 19-of-28 at the stripe, shooting 67.9 percent.
The Eagles held a slim 38-36 lead at the end of the first half, rebounding from an early 10-point deficit and rallying for the halftime lead with a pair of Nate Higgins (St. Mary's, Pa./Elk County Catholic) foul shots with 39.1 seconds left in the frame.
Catholic held the lead through much of the early-going in the second half, with Juniata finally overtaking the Cardinals for good on a pair of Sekulski free throws at the 4:21 mark. A Raymond three-pointer quickly bolstered the Juniata lead.
Five Juniata players finished in double figures, led by Dan Sekulski (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone Area) with 17 points. Raymond finished with 15 points, including a 7-of-9 mark at the line with a pair of three-pointers, and dished out a game high eight assists. Stapleton netted 14 points, also with a pair of treys, while Scholly had two three-pointers on his way to 11 points.
Higgins rounded out Juniata's double-digit scorers with 10 points.
Catholic's Chris Kearney led all scorers with 21 points on an 8-of-11 effort from the floor, while Shawn Holmes charted 20 points. The Eagles held Catholic's Steve Limberiou, the Landmark's sixth-leading scorer coming into the game, to just two points, roughly 12 points off his season average.
Juniata shot just 44.6 percent from the field, way off Catholic's pace of 56.3 percent, and the Eagles were outrebounded 33 to 26. However Juniata took much better care of the ball, matching its season low with just eight turnovers to Catholic's 20, and producing 15 points off of turnovers to the Cardinals' seven.
Juniata returns to action Saturday afternoon, Feb. 11, as the Eagles host Goucher College in their final home regular season contest. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m., with the Eagles recognizing their two seniors – Sekulski and Austin Ankney (Somerset, Pa./Somerset) in pre-game ceremonies.