HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata men's basketball team dropped a tough, 56-50, contest to Drew, Saturday afternoon in Memorial Gymnasium.
It was a sloppy start as the teams traded turnovers to open the game before the Rangers drilled a three to open the score a little over a minute and a half into the game. Two possessions later, Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa. / Bishop Carroll) converted a difficult jumper before Noah Neville (Westminster, Md. / North Carroll) found Jake Holsopple (Duncansville, Pa. / Hollidaysburg) who had sealed his defender. He laid it in while taking the contact, converting the free throw to make it 5-2. Martinazzi found Holsopple for another layup, but the Rangers countered with back to back threes. Martinazzi found Holsopple again, this time for a deep three from the top of the key that found nothing but the bottom of the net to make it 12-10. Another Holsopple layup, on this one he used a euro-step to avoid the defender and finish off the glass, tied things at 12-12 with fourteen minutes remaining.
Martinazzi split a pair of free throws, Nicholas Albert (Herndon, Va. / Westfield High) found Cameron Keck (Waynesboro, Pa. / Waynesboro) for another deep three from the top of the key, with the shot clock running down to give the Eagles the lead back. Martinazzi split another pair of foul shots, Albert drove hard from the left wing and laid it in over his defender, and Paul Martello (York, Pa. / York Catholic) burst into a passing lane, stole the ball and beat everyone down the end for an easy left-hand layup. Martinazzi converted two free throws, and Martello drilled a three to extend the Eagle lead to 12. Drew finally scored on a layup after a nearly 13-minute draught to make it 26-16. The Rangers scored five of the last six points of the half as Juniata led 27-21 heading into the locker room.
The Eagles held Drew to 30.8% shooting from the field and forced the visitors into 11 turnovers.
The Rangers opened the second half the same way the started the game, with a three. Martinazzi found Holsopple inside for a righthand lay in to make it 29-24. Another Drew triple pulled the Rangers within two before another slick Holsopple drive ended with another and one, and after the foul shot the Eagles led by five. The Rangers pulled within one, with two foul shots from Caidon Owen (Glenelg, Md. / Glenelg Country School) and a layup by Marcus Hall (York, Pa. / Trinity) helping JC hold their advantage.
With a little under 12 minutes to go, The Rangers pulled even for a moment before Martinazzi scored inside to make it 40-38. On the next offensive possession Nate DaCanal (Johnsonburg, Pa. / Elk County Catholic) drove baseline and slid a pass to Holsopple who finished in traffic to push the lead to four. The Rangers took their first three with just over eight minutes to go, at 43-42. Coming out of the timeout, Martello set up Holsopple again for another layup to give Juniata the lead back. The Rangers went on a run over the next four minutes to open up a 52-44 lead with three minutes left in the game.
In the final minute, Martinazzi drilled a jumper to make it 52-48 and after Drew missed the front end of a one and one, Martinazzi's two foul shots pulled Juniata within two, 52-50 with 23 seconds left in the game. Juniata fouled again, but this time the Rangers made their foul shots to close the game.
The Rangers held a 39-33 advantage on the glass while the Eagles turned 16 Drew turnovers into 17 points. JC also had a 26-16 edge in points in the paint.
Juniata will host Catholic, Wednesday at 7:00.