Eagles Hold Off Panthers, 69-66

Justin Fleming's free throw with 10 seconds left gave Juniata a lead it would not relinquish
Justin Fleming's free throw with 10 seconds left gave Juniata a lead it would not relinquish

BRADFORD, PA- Three free throws in the final 10 seconds broke a 66-66 tie as the Juniata men's basketball team defeated Pitt-Bradford 69-66 on Saturday afternoon. The win improves the Eagles to 3-1 overall while the Panthers fall to 1-2.


The Panthers tied the game up with 28 seconds left on the game clock on a jumper from Hiree Peoples. Juniata inbounded the ball and brought it up court before a foul by Keith Burgess on Justin Fleming (Richmond, VA/Benedictine College Prep.) put Fleming on the line with 10 seconds to play. Fleming calmly sank the first attempt but was off on his second. The Panthers pulled down the rebound and looked for one more shot to win the game but Zach Smith was called for a foul on Ryan Naccarato (Hummelstown, PA/Lower Dauphin) and Naccarato was good on both free throws is ice the game for the Eagles.


Juniata was led by Marcus Lee (Carrollton, PA/Bishop Carroll), who dropped 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Fleming added 15 points, five rebounds and two steals. Kyle Koehler (Chester Springs, PA/Devon Prep) tallied seven points and four rebounds and Nate Ogle (Falls Church, VA/George Mason) chipped in four points and a team-high six boards.


Pitt-Bradford scored the game's first two points on free throws to lead 2-0 in the opening minutes of the first half. A 14-5 JC run gave the Eagles a 14-7 advantage with 11:33 showing on the clock.The Panthers came back to tie the game up at 14-all but the Eagles scored five straight points to lead 19-14 at 9:14.


The Juniata lead was four points, 24-20, with exactly four minutes remaining in the half but Pitt-Bradford chipped away and tied the contest at 24-24 with 1:42 remaining. Koehler's jumper at 1:19 got the Eagles ahead by two and Peoples responded for the Panthers with a layup to again tie it all up. Lee's layup restored the two-point advantage with 42 seconds left and Burgess' back end of two free throws cut the lead to one point as the Eagles went into halftime ahead 28-27.


In the second half, the score would be tied three times with the third occurrence happening with just under 16 minutes left on the clock. A 10-2 JC run staked the Eagles to a 45-37 lead at 12:49. The advantage increased to nine points after a traditional three-point play from Lee at 8:42 put Juniata up 52-43.


Pitt-Bradford chipped away at Juniata's lead but the Eagles would keep it at bay and led by nine points, 59-50, with 5:26 remaining and was poised to take the game over. The Panthers would not go away quietly as they mounted a 16-8 run to tie the game up but in the end Juniata made the three critical free throws to stave off the threat.


The Eagles shot well overall converting 57.1% (24-of-42) of their field goals. It was the third straight game that Juniata shot over 50% from the floor. Pitt-Bradford was held to 38.9% (21-of-54). JC attempted just five three-pointers and was good on two of them for 40% while the Panthers were 3-of-16 (18.8%). The two teams were nearly identical from the charity stripe (70.4% for Juniata and 72.4% for Pitt-Bradford).


Juniata returns to Memorial Gymnasium to host Washington and Jefferson College on Tuesday night. Game time will be at 7:30 p.m.