Eagles Fend Off Presidents, 74-71

Marcus Lee scored 22 points to lead the Eagles.
Marcus Lee scored 22 points to lead the Eagles.

HUNTINGDON, PA- Justin Fleming's (Richmond, VA/Benedictine College Prep) basket with just over a minute left proved to be the game-winner as the Juniata men's basketball team overcame an early deficit to defeat Washington and Jefferson 74-71 on Tuesday night at Memorial Gymnasium. The Eagles, winners of four straight, improve to 4-1 overall while W&J falls to 0-5.


Fleming's basket at 1:02 gave Juniata a 72-71 lead. The Presidents had a chance to go ahead in the waning seconds but Fleming came up with a huge block to preserve the Juniata win.


Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, PA/Bishop Carroll) led the Eagles in points for the second straight game as he put up 22 on 7-of-11 shooting. Fleming added 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor and also had seven rebounds. Trevor Clune (Meadville, PA/Meadville) had a career night with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting.


The Presidents came out firing in the opening minutes of the first half as they went on a 12-0 run on four straight three-point field goals to lead 12-3 at 17:07.  The Eagles came back to knock the deficit down to three points, 12-9, with 15:14 to play in the half.


Juniata got to within two points on a trey by Wade Walker (Hooversville, PA/Shade) at 14:29. W&J went on a 13-4 run and increased its advantage to 27-16 at 10:21. Juniata's 16-4 run, that ended with Lee's layup at 6:41, gave the Eagles their first lead of the night, 32-31. The Presidents recovered to outscore the Eagles 13-9 in the last 6:19 to take a 46-41 lead at the half.


Washington and Jefferson was on fire in the first half as it shot 10-of-15 (66.7%) from beyond the three-point arc. Juniata was just as torrid as it was 5-of-8 (62.5%).


The Presidents continued their hot shooting in the opening minute of the second half with a three-point basket by Tyler Haas to increase their lead to 49-41. The Eagles would tie the contest up at 54-54 at 11:48 but again W&J would keep its distance. After trailing 62-58 with 9:04 left to play, JC ripped off a 9-0 run, with Lee contributing seven of those points, to go up 67-62 with 5:45 left.


Two ties would ensue with a free throw by Seth Brewer (Lancaster, PA/Manheim Township) breaking the second tie at 2:56 to give the Eagles a 70-69 edge. Haas gave W&J the lead on a jump shot at 1:21 that was then answered by Fleming to give the Eagles the advantage. With Juniata nursing a one-point lead, the Presidents had a chance at a potential game-winning basket but Doug Johnson's shot would be blocked by Fleming and Clune came down with the rebound. Clune was then fouled and calmly sank two free throws. W&J was unsuccessful on the inbound pass and JC walked away with a win.


The Presidents cooled off in the second half as they only converted one out of four three-point attempts. The two teams were close in overall shots as Juniata was good on 26-of-55 (47.5%) of its attempts and W&J was 23-of-49 (46.9%).


Juniata dominated in the paint with a 28-10 advantage. Buoyed by Clune's 19 points, the Eagles' bench outscored W&J's, 24-10. The Eagles led in in rebounds, 33-32, blocked shots, 5-2, and in steals, 7-3.


The Eagles dive into Landmark Conference play next Wednesday when they go on the road to face Elizabethtown. Game time will be at 7 p.m.