Huntingdon, Pa.- The Juniata men's basketball team lost a heartbreaker, 81-78, to Moravian in the Landmark Conference Championship Saturday afternoon in a raucous Memorial Gymnasium.
Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll) had 19 points, seven rebounds and four blocks while Seth Brewer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) had 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. Paul Martello (York, Pa./York Catholic) added 15 points and two steals off the bench while Wil Peralta (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) had nine points, six rebounds, five assists and a steal. Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa./Bishop Carroll) had seven points, four rebounds and three assists while Damon Rickens (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) had seven points, a game-high 11 rebounds and two assists.
With 1.2 seconds left, down three, Juniata needed to go the length of the floor. Peralta ran the baseline before he launched a pass to above the opposite three-point line. Rickens came down with the ball in a crowd, turned and fired a three. The ball caught the left side of the rim and bounced out as the buzzer sounded.
On the previous Eagle possession, with six seconds left, JC rebounded a Moravian missed free throw. Peralta snagged the rebound and flipped it to Brewer who raced up the left side of the court before he zipped the ball to Martello on the right wing who drilled a three to pull JC within one at 79-78 while appearing to be fouled, but there was no whistle. The Greyhounds made two foul shots to push the lead back to three before the Eagles final attempt.
The game started off slowly as the teams felt each other out. After a Greyhound layup, Peralta swished two free throws to get Juniata on the board. A layup by Lee and a jumper by Peralta made it 6-2. After the Greyhounds scored and got in their press. Brewer caught the ball, went through the teeth of the press before finishing through the contact for an and-one. JC led 9-4 following the free throw.
A few minutes later, with Moravian pressing as usual, Jake Holsopple (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Hollidaysburg) fired the ball ahead to Nathan Markey (York, Pa./Central York) who drew a defender before bouncing a pass to a slashing Martello who laid it in to make it 14-11. The Greyhounds tied the score at 18-18 via a three. Rickens drilled a three in the left corner off a pass from Martinazzi to give JC the lead back. On the next trip down the floor Martinazzi sunk a step back jumper to make it 23-18.
Martinazzi passed the ball to Martello on the break and he finished over the larger defender while being fouled. His foul shot made the score 29-22. Moravian responded and quickly got within three at 30-27 with five and half minutes left. Peralta's hustle got the Eagles a second chance, and Brewer capitalized. He drove baseline from the left wing, dropped his defender with a quick behind the back dribble that sent the defender sliding out of bounds before he banked the ball in off the glass for two. A Lee jumper off a pass from Peralta made it 34-27.
Juniata led by five at halftime, 39-34.
Lee opened the second half with a tough layup in traffic. A slick reverse layup from Rickens and lay in by Martinazzi made it 45-41. With a little under 14 minutes to go the Eagles led by just two, 49-47.
Holsopple fire a bounce pass to Markey who laid the ball in while being hacked. He made the foul shot to push the lead to five. Moravian scored the next five points to knot the score at 52. On the next Eagle possession, Peralta tossed the ball from the elbow to Lee inside for an easy lay in.
Brewer's fingerprints were all over the next few Eagle buckets. The senior guard found Martinazzi for a layup and Rickens for a short jumper as the teams went back and forth. Brewer hit a tougher leaning jumper and followed that with a triple from the left wing off a pass from Peralta to make it 65-61. Two Martello free throws followed by a tough Brewer drive from the left side made it 69-64.
A Martello layup made it 73-69, but another Greyhound three brought them within one. Two free throws gave Moravian a point lead. Following a Greyhound timeout, Rickens lobbed the ball over the defense, Lee made a leaping grab and laid the ball in to give JC the lead back with a minute and half remaining. After forcing a stop, JC missed a layup and Moravian made two free throws to take the lead with twenty-seven seconds to go. Trying to get the ball in, Moravian managed to steal the ball and JC quickly fouled. On the next possession the Eagles missed a long two and fouled again. The Greyhounds split the foul shots, setting up Martello's three.
Juniata shot 50.9% from the floor and held Moravian to 36.9% shooting. The Eagles held a 39-33 edge on the glass.
Eagles are now 22-5.