HUNTINGDON, Pa.- Catholic's Louis Khouri converted a layup with under a second left as the Cardinals walked away with a 65-64 over Juniata on Saturday night at Memorial Gymnasium. The win improves Catholic's record to 10-3 and 2-0 in the Landmark while the Eagles drop to 8-5 and 0-2 in the conference.
Juniata trailed 63-61 with 1:06 left to play after Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll) scored a traditional three-point play. A turnover by the Cardinals' Jay Howard gave possession back to JC with 38 seconds left. After a pair of timeouts, there was 18 seconds remaining on the clock. Seth Brewer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) found Damon Rickens' (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) in the left corner and Rickens drained the trey to put Juniata ahead 64-63 with 13 seconds left.
In the first half, Juniata led 18-11 following back-to-back three-point shots from Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa./Bishop Carroll) and Trevor Clune (Meadville, Pa./Meadville Area) at the 9:14 mark. A 13-0 Cardinal run, aided by 10 points on free throws, gave the lead to Catholic, 23-18, with 5:46 remaining in the half.
Rickens answered for the Eagles with a pair of three-pointers and the lead was restored to Juniata, 24-23, at 4:45. Another run by the Cardinals, this one 10-2, gave the visitors back the lead, 33-26, at 1:12. Rickens scored the final basket of the period on a layup with 50 seconds left as CUA led 33-28 at halftime.
Khouri's jump shot to begin the second half put the Cardinals ahead 35-28. An 11-2 Eagle run gave Juniata a one-possession lead at 15:04. Four lead changes and two ties would follow before Juniata put together a 9-0 run to go up 56-49 with 6:18 to play in the game.
The Cardinals answered the Eagles with a run of their own, 14-2, and led 63-58 with 1:23 to go in the contest. Lee then made his layup and would be fouled by Riley Hayes to go to the charity stripe. Lee sank his free throw and the Eagles trailed 63-61. The JC defense came up with a big stop as Howard threw the ball away on the ensuing Cardinal possession. After Juniata's second timeout, the shot clock had nine seconds left. Another five would come off until Ricken's big shot gave the Eagles the one-point lead. Catholic went down the court and Khouri scored in the lane amongst several defenders for the game-winning basket.
Rickens led Juniata with 17 points for his first double-digit performance in seven games. He was 6-of-12 from the floor and 5-of-9 from beyond the three-point arc. Martinazzi added 15 points, three assists, and two rebounds. Lee had 13 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Brewer finished with nine points, four rebounds, and seven assists.
The Eagles took more shots overall and converted more than the Cardinals but Catholic had a higher conversion percentage (48.7%-44.8%). The difference in the game was on the free throw line as Catholic went to the charity stripe 30 times and made 21 attempts with JC only going four times and converting three.
Juniata had the rebounding advantage 31-27. JC outscored the Cardinals in points off of turnovers 22-18, 12-2 in second chance points, and 28-20 in the paint. Rickens accounted for all 17 of the Eagles' bench points to outscore the Catholic bench's 11.
The Eagles return to the hardwood on Wednesday night as they travel to Towson, Md. to face Goucher. Game time will be at 7:00 p.m.