HUNTINGDON, PA- The Juniata men's basketball team recovered from a rough first half to defeat Penn-State York 59-48 on Friday night at Memorial Gymnasium. The game was played as part of the 23rd annual Doc Greene Tournament.
The Eagles led the Nittany Lions at halftime 20-18 despite only shooting 9-of-32 (28.1%) from the floor. JC improved dramatically in the second half as it went 15-of-25 (60%) in field goals and outscored PSU-York 39-30.
Juniata received a big effort from Kyle Koehler (Chester Springs, PA/Devon Prep) who scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting in 26 minutes of game time off the bench. Koehler added seven rebounds and three steals. Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, PA/Bishop Carroll) had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds on the night.
Head coach Greg Curley was pleased with Koehler's performance. "I was happy for him and the way he responded after being moved to the bench," he said. "He handled it really well but we need to get more consistency across the board. We need to get more consistent in all aspects."
Logan Steckel led the Nittany Lions and all scorers with 20 points. Josh Jamison added 12 points, eight rebounds, and three steals.
The Nittany Lions led 7-4 at the 14:52 mark of the first half but a 14-3 run by the Eagles put the home team ahead 18-10 with 8:32 remaining in the frame. Penn State York cut into the JC advantage and brought it down to 20-18 with 2:22 left on the clock. Both team missed on opportunities in the final two minutes as the score remained the same at intermission.
Juniata maintained a lead over PSU-York in the opening minutes of the second half despite the Nittany Lions cutting the advantage to one point three times. A big 24-7 run by the Eagles covering over eight minutes of game time put JC up 49-33 with 8:31 remaining to play in the contest.
Despite the growing deficit, the Nittany Lions fought their way back into the game and got to within eight points, 51-43, of tying it up with just under five minutes left. A traditional three-point play from Justin Fleming (Richmond, VA/Benedictine College Prep) with 3:19 remaining staked the Eagles to an 11-point lead and they would maintain a double-digit advantage the rest of the way to come away with the win.
Koehler helped the Juniata bench outscore PSU-York's 23-8. The Eagles also led in second chance points, 11-5, points in the paint, 34-22, and in points off turnovers, 15-9.
The Eagles move on the championship game tomorrow afternoon against #10 Dickinson. The Red Devils defeated #16 North Central College (IL) 80-73 in the tournament's earlier game.
"Dickinson is an outstanding team and is extremely well-coached," said Curley. "We have had some success against them the last several years but they have a veteran group now. Our group is going to have to grow up, mature quickly, and play much better than we did today to have an opportunity to be in the game and win."