HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata men's basketball team fell to Randolph, 71-55, Thursday evening in Memorial Gymnasium on the first night of the Juniata Holiday Tournament Sponsored by the Comfort Inn.
The Eagles started strong, forcing a turnover on the opening possession. Marcus Hall (York, Pa. / Trinity) gathered an errant Eagle shot and tossed it Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa. / Bishop Carroll). He eventually hit Jake Holsopple (Duncansville, Pa. / Hollidaysburg) at the top of the key and the junior forward drilled the three to make it 3-0. The visitors scored the next 11 points before Martinazzi scored inside off a handoff from Noah Neville (Westminster, Md. / North Carroll). The Wildcats scored five more before Martinazzi scored on a fadeaway and Neville played provider again, finding Cameron Keck (Waynesboro, Pa. / Waynesboro) for three on the left wing. The Wildcats responded with a three of their own as Juniata trailed, 20-10, with nine minutes to go in the opening half.
Paul Martello (York, Pa. / York Catholic) stole the ball and a drew a foul on the other end before he converted both free throws. He stepped into a passing lane and stole the ball again, took the ball the length of the court and laid it in to cute the deficit to six. Following a Randolph layup, Nate DaCanal (Johnsonburg, Pa. / Elk County Catholic) swung it to Martello who swished a three. DaCanal found Martinazzi off an inbound pass and he converted the layup while being fouled. The foul shot cut the deficit to two. Randolph pushed their lead to 11 over the next several minutes, as Juniata trailed 34-23 with three and half minutes to play.
Two Martinazzi free throws and a three off a pass from Zach Engle (Millheim, Pa. / Penns Valley) made it 34-28 as the Eagles defense tightened. After another stop, Martinazzi drew another foul and went to the foul line where he made both to pull the Eagles within four, 34-30. Juniata went into the locker room down four.
Randolph opened the second half with a triple, before Holsopple found a slashing Martello for a nifty layup. Hall forced a turnover, dove on the loose ball and called a timeout. Following the break, he scored in the paint off a feed from Martinazzi. Hall scored again on the next offensive trip after grabbing an offensive rebound to make it 41-36. The teams continued to trade buckets as DaCanal found Engle for a layup and Neville splashed a triple as the Eagles hung within five.
The Wildcats stormed ahead with a 17-1 run that pushed their lead to 21 with a little under seven minutes to go, and cruised the rest of the way.
Randolph had a 38-30 advantage on the boards and a 30-16 advantage in points in the paint.
Juniata will host Bethany, tomorrow at 2:00 in the consolation game.