SELINSGROVE, Pa. – Despite an offensive explosion and two players scoring 20 plus, the Juniata women's basketball team was defeated 88-81 by the Susquehanna Crusaders Wednesday night.
The last time Juniata had two athletes scoring 20 plus was in 2013 against Gwynedd Mercy when current assistant coach Kate McDonald scored 26 and Paige Dennison followed with 24.
JC opened up the game with back-to-back three's from Atkinson and would take an 8-3 lead off two free throws from Rachael Anstine (York, PA / Dallastown). Susquehanna went on a 7-0 run to take the lead 10-8 before Atkinson got the layup to tie the game at 10.
Leamer sank her first bucket moments later to keep the game tied. The Crusaders closed out the period with a 22-18 lead.
Quick threes from Leamer and Atkinson tied the game up at 24 with just one minute into the second quarter. The rivals went back and forth until a tying bucket from Natalie Hager (Franklin, PA / Franklin) sparked an 8-0 run to give Juniata the lead 42-38 at the half.
The Crusaders struck first in the second half but Bailey Swogger (Tyrone, PA / Bellwood-Antis) made the jumper to keep a four-point lead for the Eagles. Anstine followed with a layup after getting the defensive rebound and Swogger drilled a three to make it 49-40. Susquehanna swung the game's momentum in their favor and went on an 18-2 run to take a 58-51 lead midway through the period.
Juniata refused to back down and sent the ball over Leamer who recorded nine unanswered points to give the Eagles the lead 60-58. The Crusaders tied the game up at 60 on a layup from Angie Schedler and took the lead 30 seconds later on a Schedler three.
JC took the final points of the quarter on two free throws from Atkinson to head into the final period of play down by one.
The final quarter continued much like the first three. Leamer notched a jumper nearly 45 seconds in to give the Eagles back the lead before Susquehanna would go 1-2 from the foul line to tie the game up at 64. The lead would change three times in the second minute of the quarter before the Crusaders edged ahead on back-to-back jumpers from Courtney Adams.
The Crusaders would go up by five on a layup from Schedler with 3:13 remaining.
A quick jumper after an offensive rebound from Leamer put the Eagles back within three at the two-minute mark. As time began to wind down, Juniata was forced to send Susquehanna to the foul line. The Crusaders went 5-6 in the final moments to take the victory 88-81.
Atkinson nearly earned a double-double with her team-leading 27 points and nine rebounds. She also led the team in steals with three. Leamer notched seven rebounds to complement her 26 points.
Anstine recorded eight defensive rebounds on the night and added six points.
Bethany Spencer (York, PA / York Suburban) notched four assists and four rebounds.
Juniata finished with a 45.7 shooting percentage, 39 rebounds and 32 points off the bench. They held advantages in rebounds (39-29), points off turnovers (19-13), second chance points (16-4) and bench points (32-6).
The Eagles prepare for a tough Landmark Conference match this weekend as they travel to Scranton to face the Royals at 3:15pm Sat. Feb. 6.