MADISON, N.J.-The Juniata men's basketball team rallied late but came up just short on the road against conference leader Drew, 66-64, Saturday afternoon at Baldwin Gym.
Jake Holsopple (Duncansville, Pa. / Hollidaysburg) opened the game with a three off a pass from Marcus Hall (York, Pa. / Trinity). After a stop, Hall cleaned up a miss and laid it back in to make it 5-0. The Eagle defense continued to hold strong, with Paul Martello (York, Pa. / York Catholic) finding Hall for another layup to make it 7-0 two and half minutes in. A block from Holsopple resulted in a Martello layup on the other end to extend the run to 9-0, the Rangers called timeout.
Drew eventually scored four minutes into the contest, drilling back to back threes to quickly get back within three at 9-6. Hall drilled two foul shots, the Rangers scored inside and Nate DaCanal (Johnsonburg, Pa. / Elk County Catholic) setup Holsopple for a lay-in as the teams traded buckets.
The Rangers hung around over the next several minutes, eventually taking the lead, 17-15 with 10 minutes to go in the half. Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa. / Bishop Carroll) drilled a three off a pass from Martello. Martello collected the rebound after a stop and then scored via a layup on the other side before Martinazzi scored on an inside score to put the Eagles back up five, 22-17. Following a Ranger bucket Nicholas Albert (Herndon, Va. / Westfield High) found Holsopple for another three. The Rangers pulled ahead again, 27-25, with three minutes to go. A Martinazzi jumper followed by a Holsopple layup to give JC the lead back. Drew tallied the final six points of the half to head into the locker room up, 33-29.
The second half was back and forth early, with the Rangers slowly building their lead over the first part of the final frame as back to back layups made it 54-42 with 11 minutes and thirty seconds to go in the game.
Following an Eagle timeout, Holsopple scored inside while being fouled, with the foul shot making it 54-49. The Rangers responded with a three before an Albert jumper, two Noah Neville (Westminster, Md. / North Carroll) free throws followed by two from Albert cut the deficit to six. Another Ranger three pushed the lead back up to nine with just under seven minutes to go. Holsopple found Martello for a three, Albert found Neville for a bucket inside to make it 60-56. Drew countered with two layups of their own to make it 64-56 with three and half minutes remaining.
Coming out of a timeout, Martinazzi found Holsopple behind the line for another triple to cut the deficit to five. After getting a stop, Martinazzi scored inside off a feed from Holsopple to pull JC within three with a little over two minutes left on the clock.
The Eagles got two looks to tie over the next minute, but couldn't convert as the first one was off the mark and the second one was blocked. The Eagles had to foul with 23 seconds to go in the game, and Drew made both. Martinazzi went racing down the other end where he dribbled into the paint, drawing several defenders before he kicked it back out to a trailing Martello who drilled a three from the left wing. Juniata quickly fouled and the Rangers missed the first. With 14 seconds left, Martello grabbed the rebound and flipped it to Martinazzi. He went up the floor, driving in from the left wing. He met several Ranger defenders in the paint, and the ball was knocked loose with the hosts recovering the ball. JC fouled again with three seconds showing on the clock. Drew again missed the front end of the one and one. Martello grabbed the board and tried to shake loose for a last second full court heave, but the Rangers tipped the final attempt.
The teams were fairly balanced on the stat sheet, with the two biggest things coming out in favor of the Rangers being their 18-6 advantage in points off turnovers and their 24-6 edge in second chance points.
The Eagles will return to action Wednesday at home against Goucher. Tipoff is at 7:00.