By: Jennifer Jones
Director of Sports Information
email@example.com • juniatasports.net
Photo: TJ Chance-Chin
HUNTINGDON, Pa. – The Juniata College women's basketball team erased an 11-point second half deficit but fell short of a comeback against Drew University Saturday night in the Kennedy Sports+Recreation Center. The Eagles were down by just one with 38 seconds to play before falling 67-62 to their Landmark Conference rival, who improved to 9-6 with the win, 2-2 in Landmark play. Juniata (7-8, 0-4 Landmark) still leads the all-time series 12-2.
"We're in a mentally tough spot right now," said head coach Danny Young-Uhrich. "Mentally it's tougher than it is physically. We need to focus on the details."
All eight Eagles who saw time on the court finished in double-digit minutes. Five closed out the contest in double-figure points led junior Kelsey Livoti (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle). She earned a team-high 13 points going 4-for-9 from the floor. Senior Jordan Hileman (Williamsburg, Pa./Williamsburg) had a breakout performance. She scored all four of the Eagles last field goals in the first half en route to her 12 points.
"She had a smaller girl on her and she's a point guard with a post mentality," Young-Uhrich noted of Hileman. "She's really physical and she utilizes her body well. She put herself in a couple good positions to get open and just exploited the mismatch in there. But it was refreshing to see her break out and play with a determination, more than she's had in the past."
Sophomore Paige Dennison (East Berlin, Pa./Bermudian Springs) picked up 11 points and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds. And earning 10 points a piece were senior Kate McDonald (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa./State College Area) and freshman Katy Leamer (Altoona, Pa./Bellwood-Antis), respectively.
Leamer had a big first half performance off the bench and would finish with a team-high eight rebounds.
"She was being a presence in the post and she did find herself in good positions today," said Young-Uhrich of Leamer. "I'm hoping this continues. She's a significant player for us so she has to keep it up."
Juniata was up by three (18-15) off a jumper by Leamer with 7:31 to left in the half when Drew mounted an attack. Down one after a pair of made free throws from Courtney Stephens, Hannah Miller, the Rangers leading scorer, hit a three to get them on top by two. Hileman would tie it up at 22-all, but two quick buckets by Drew put them up by five with 2:49 left.
The Eagles would fight back and regain the lead with 1:05 on the clock off another Hileman layup. Breana Wilson then tied the game up for the seventh time at the free throw line and put Drew into the lead. Hileman beat her defender to the baseline with 35 seconds left and hit a bucket to put the Eagles back on top. But a three by Miller with two seconds left gave Drew the 34-32 lead going into the break.
The Rangers went up by as much as 11 points in the second half when the Eagles began to claw back. They pulled the lead to two (54-56) off a pair of free throws by Dennison with 4:46 remaining. Drew pushed it back out to eight with 2:05 left but the Juniata would not go away.
They held at a four-point deficit until Livoti hit a layup to pull them back within two with 59 seconds to play. McDonald stole the ball from Wilson on the Rangers next possession and freshman Olivia Halfpenny (McVeytown, Pa./Mifflin County) earned a trip to the free throw line. She sunk the first and pulled the Eagles within one (63-62) with 38 seconds on the clock. When she missed the second free throw, Stephens grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Drew was in the double bonus but Stephens missed both free throws leaving the door open for the Eagles.
Juniata grabbed the rebound and pushed up the court. A quick jumper rimmed out and Wilson snatched the rebound and was immediately fouled. The Eagles sent Drew to the line twice more before the end of regulation after missing shots on their end. The Rangers were 4-for-6 from the charity stripe in the final 22 seconds of play to hold on for the win.
Juniata now prepares to continue Landmark Conference action at home this coming Wednesday, Jan. 22 against Goucher College. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. The Eagles are 12-0 against Goucher in a rivalry that started when both teams entered the Landmark Conference in 2007. They have outscored the Gophers by an average of 28 points in their last four meetings.
Follow Your Eagles! Stay up-to-date on your Juniata College Eagles by logging onto www.juniatasports.net. And don't forget to follow us on twitter (@JuniataEagles) and on Facebook (Juniata Eagles).