ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa.- Juniata men's basketball built up an 18-point lead at halftime but had to withstand a Elizabethtown rally as it defeated the Blue Jays 72-65 on Wednesday night. The victory ends JC's three-game winless streak at three as it improves to 10-8 overall and 2-5 in the Landmark. The Blue Jays fall to 4-13 and 1-6.
All five starting players reached double digits in scoring led by Damon Rickens' (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) 22 points which matched his career and season-high. Rickens was 7-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-9 from beyond the three-point arc. He also had four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Trevor Clune (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) added 12 points, three assists, one rebound, and one steal. Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa./Bishop Carroll) and Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll) both chipped in 11 points with Martinazzi grabbing five boards and Lee pulling down 10 rebounds. Seth Brewer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) contributed 10 points, three rebounds, and three steals.
The Blue Jays' only lead of the night came on the first basket of the game, a three-point shot from Matt Lapkowicz. A 13-4 Juniata lead put the Eagles on top 13-7 at the 13:48 mark. E-Town would drop the lead to two points, 15-13, at 11:24. The Eagles jumped out ahead 32-20 with 3:25 remaining in the period. A 10-0 Eagle run in the final 1:44, with points provided by both Clune and Rickens, staked Juniata to a 42-24 advantage at the break.
In the second half, Elizabethtown went on a 15-4 run to get to within seven points of tying, 46-39, with 14:18 to play. It was a nine-point contest, 56-47, with 8:20 showing on the clock as the Blue Jays would not go away quietly. It was a two-possession game, 70-64, with 20 seconds left. Following a Blue Jay timeout, the Eagles went down the court and Lee converted a layup with nine ticks to go to make it 72-64 in JC's favor. Lee would foul E-Town's Ethan Dubois to put him on the line. Dubois made his first but missed his second attempt and Clune came down with the rebound as Juniata ran out the clock to secure the win.
Overall, the Eagles shot 50% (26-of-52) from the floor compared to the Blue Jays' 46% (23-of-50). Juniata lost the rebound battle to E-town 31-28. JC outscored EC 25-6 in points off of turnovers and led in the points in the paint 40-28.
Juniata next travels to the nation's capital for a rematch with Catholic. Tip off time on Saturday will be at 4:00 p.m. The Eagles will be looking to avenge their 65-64 last second loss to the Cardinals earlier this month in Huntingdon.