HUNTINGDON, PA- The Juniata women's basketball team broke a halftime tie with a big run in the second half to defeat visiting Merchant Marine Academy 68-53 on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gymnasium. The win improves the Eagles record to 5-11 overall and 3-4 in the Landmark Conference. The Mariners drop to 2-12 and 0-10 in the conference.
Brianna Wasser (Ebensburg/Central Cambria) scored a season and career-high 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and also came away with three steals. Katy Leamer (Bellwood/Bellwood-Antis) added 11 points and three rebounds. Olivia Halfpenny (McVeytown/Mifflin County) chipped in 10 points, two rebounds, and four blocks.
Kelsey Livoti (Altoona/Bishop Guilfoyle) added nine points and 12 rebounds which tied for her season-best. Natalie Hager (Franklin/Franklin) also chipped in nine points while also picking up three blocks, two steals, and two rebounds.
Wasser and Halfpenny led a Juniata bench that outscored the Mariners' 40-21. The Eagles defense also stepped up with eight blocked shots and 15 steals. The eight blocks were the most all season while the 15 steals were the second-most.
"I'm glad we could go a little deeper today," said head coach Danny-Young Uhrich afterwards. "I was hopeful that we could get a lot of kids in. It worked out well in the kids stayed focused in and continued to play despite maybe sitting for a half. I think we got some good contributions from Bri and she showed glimmers of the player that she can be."
The two teams went back and forth early in the first half of play as there were two ties and three lead changes. The Eagles trailed 9-6 at 14:48 when an 8-0 run gave them a 14-9 advantage at 11:55.
The Mariners trimmed the JC lead down to one point, 15-14, with 10:32 remaining in the half. A 10-3 run by Juniata extended the Eagle lead to 25-17 with 5:22 showing on the game clock. Merchant Marine chipped away at the deficit and scored the last seven points of the frame on five foul shots and a layup from Jenna Wetherington with 16 ticks left to tie the game up at 29-all.
Juniata regrouped after halftime and came out quickly in the second half as it scored nine straight points to leap ahead 38-29 at the 14:31 mark. The Mariners were able to get to within five, 38-33, at 13:03 but a 17-0 run by the Eagles that covered just over four minutes of game time gave Juniata the separation it needed from its opponent. The JC defense forced five Mariner turnovers and held them to 0-for-6 shooting during the time span.
The Eagles held the Mariners to 27.6% (16-of-58) shooting from the floor, which was the lowest it has held an opponent to this season. The 53 points also was the second lowest that Juniata has surrendered to an opponent.
Juniata controlled the paint with a 34-22 advantage. It also had a slim lead in second chance points, 13-12.
The Eagles will next host Catholic on Wednesday night. Game time from Memorial Gymnasium will be at 7 p.m. "Building off of Wednesday and today, we have a great shot at Catholic and I think that we match up well with them and I'm hoping we can play a full 40 to make sure that we grab another win from a another quality team," Young-Uhrich added.