HUNTINGDON, Pa., Kelsey Livoti (Altoona, PA / Bishop Guilfoyle) scored 23 points and grabbed 10 boards for her third double-double of the season as the Juniata College women's basketball team defeated the Rangers of Drew at home on Saturday to pull within one and a half games of a spot in the Landmark Conference tournament. The Blue and Gold are now back over .500 in conference play at 6-5.
Freshman Danielle Atkinson (Lancaster, PA / Lancaster Catholic) and sophomore Katy Leamer (Bellwood, PA / Bellwood) joined Livoti in double digits with 19 and 12 points respectively. Atkinson finished with four rebounds, an assist and a steal. Leamer had six rebounds, along with an assist and a block against the Rangers. "Danny was determined, definitely determined. There was a look in her eyes today and its fun seeing that in a freshman," said head coach Danny Young-Uhrich. She added that, "Kelsey and Katy took the ball hard to the rim. Kelsey had a double-double, which is always good to see. We finally had the size advantage today. They decided to show up to play and they just kept scoring."
Livoti drained a three-pointer for the first score of the game. Drew proceeded to go on a 9-0 run and take a six-point lead. Juniata pulled close at 10-8 on a three-pointer from Olivia Halfpenny (McVeytown, PA / Mifflin County), but was unable to tie the game. Drew began to pull away and held a ten-point lead with ten minutes left to play in the first half. The Eagles began to chip away minutes later and pulled within two at 29-27 on a Leamer layup. Livoti made a jumper with seconds left before the break to send Juniata to the locker room only down one.
Drew scored five straight to start the half, but the Eagles responded with six of their own to tie the contest at 46. The two teams traded baskets and remained tied at 53, when Natalie Hager (Franklin, PA / Franklin) made a layup to kick-start another 6-point run. Drew tied the game at 67-67 with just over four minutes to play. Atkinson broke the tie with a jumper and Livoti tacked on a layup to give Juniata the lead. The Eagles outscored Drew 13-11 the rest of the way to claim an 84-78 victory over the Rangers.
Young-Urich said of the victory, "It's a good win. Drew, despite their record is a really good, tough team. I knew they were going to claw, scrape, and do anything they could for a win today, because, like us, they are in desperate need of wins to get to the playoffs." The coach was not sure how her team would handle the day's distractions, but was pleased with how they handled themselves. "Even though it is a home game, with everything surrounding the day, between alumni day and Shaq the House, there was a lot of activity and distractions today. I think the girls definitely pushed through it. We struggled, but we pushed through it and came out on top."
The Eagles are now 8-12 on the season and will return to action Wednesday night when they host conference rival Susquehanna. "Susquehanna is a tough team no matter what. I think we're hitting them at the right time with where we're at with our play. You need confidence against them and I think our games against Catholic, Moravian, and these last two against Goucher and Drew can provided us with a confidence we can use to push us through Susquehanna. They are going to be tough, but I think we can do some good things against them." Tip-off from Memorial Gymnasium is set for 7 p.m.
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