Huntingdon, Pa.- The Juniata College men's basketball held on to topple Arcadia, 73-68, Wednesday evening in Memorial Gymnasium in the first round of the ECAC Championships.
Seth Brewer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) had 22 points, four assists and four steals. Damon Rickens (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) had 16 points and nine rebounds while Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll) had 12 points and nine rebounds. Marcus Hall (York, Pa./Trinity) and Paul Martello (York, Pa./York Catholic) had seven points apiece off the bench. Wil Peralta (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) had six points, six rebounds and two blocks.
After the teams exchanged misses, Peralta buried a jumper from the right corner to open the scoring. Brewer found Rickens for a layup which it made it 4-0. Brewer than drilled three three-pointers to push the lead to 13-0 as the Knights called for time. A 10-2 surge from Arcadia got them right back in the game at 15-10, with a circus layup by Martello being the only Eagle bucket. Two buckets by Lee, assisted by Cameron Keck (Waynesboro, Pa./Waynesboro) and Brewer pushed the lead back to seven at 19-12. Arcadia pulled even, 19-19 with just under eight minutes to go.
A Lee layup off a pass from Martello and put back gave JC the lead back before the Knights reclaimed the lead a short time later, 24-23. Five straight points from Hall, an and one layup followed by a drive from the left wing for an easy two made it 28-24.
With the score at 30-32 in the final seconds of the half, Nate DaCanal (Johnsonburg, Pa./Elk County Catholic) grabbed an offensive board and was foul as time expired. He split his free throws as JC went into the locker room up 33-30 at halftime.
The Knights scored the opening bucket of the second and JC took a quick timeout. On their next defensive possession, Brewer stole the ball and lobbed it over everyone to a streaking Rickens who caught it and laid it off the glass for two. The next nine minutes saw Juniata push their lead to five or six, and then the Knights came right back. Brewer had his finger prints all over the game: converting two and-ones, getting in a passing lane and scoring an easy two before he found Peralta for a layup off an inbounds play. Martello drilled a three from the left wing and Hall scored after grabbing an offensive rebound as JC led 50-44. With just over 11 minutes left in the contest, the Knights took a 51-50 lead.
Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa./Bishop Carroll) found Rickens in the right corner with skip pass for a three to restore the lead. Rickens found Peralta for a layup and on the next possession drew a foul after corralling an offensive rebound in heavy traffic. His two free throws made it 57-53. The Knights would not go away, and with three and half minutes pulled even at 66-66.
The Knights scored on a layup, Rickens made two free throws and after the Eagles got a big stop, Lee scored inside to make it 70-68 with 53 seconds to go. Juniata forced another miss and Arcadia had to foul. Brewer split his free throws, so the Knights had a shot to tie with 10 seconds to go but their shot was off the mark. Arcadia fouled again and Brewer made both his foul shots to ice the game.
JC wraps up play in Memorial Gymnasium with a home record of 15-1.
Juniata moves on to the second round of the ECAC championship where they will face #2 seeded Neumann, Friday at 11:00 am at Wilkes University.