SELINSGROVE, PA- Kyle Koehler (Chester Springs, PA/Devon Prep) drained a three-point shot with 1:48 left to give Juniata a five-point lead and the basket proved to be enough as the Eagles defeated Susquehanna 54-52 on Wednesday night. Juniata, which has won three straight Landmark Conference games, is now 11-10 overall and 5-7 in the conference. The loss drops Susquehanna to 14-6 overall and 7-4 in the Landmark.
Koehler's three-point basket was preceded by two free throws with 2:37 remaining. SU got to within one point of tying the game, 53-52, with 18 ticks on the clock. Nate Ogle (Falls Church, VA/George Mason) went to the foul line with five seconds left and hit one of two attempts to give Juniata the two-point win.
Koehler scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting and was 3-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc. He also pulled down four rebounds and dished out three assists. Ogle was two rebounds short of a double-double as he put up 11 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, PA/Bishop Carroll) also had 11 points to go along with seven rebounds.
"Kyle stepped up when we needed him and made some big plays at both ends," said head coach Greg Curley. "We hung in there with our defense and effort and gave ourselves a chance."
Lee scored the game's first basket as Juniata led 2-0. A 14-6 run by the Crusaders staked them to a 14-8 lead with 11:09 to play in the half.
JC was able to take a four-point advantage thanks to a 10-0 run, 18-14, with 6:44 remaining in the frame. SU took the lead back and went ahead 22-20 with 4:12 showing on the clock. The Eagles got hot in the final 3:08 as an 8-1 run gave JC a 27-24 lead at the break.
In the second half, Juniata pushed its advantage to five points, 33-28, but Susquehanna got off a 14-1 burst and lurched ahead 42-34 with 11:37 remaining to play in the contest.
The Eagles were able to knock their deficit down to two points, 45-43, after a trey from Koehler at 8:41. A pair of free throws from the Crusaders' Josh Miller pushed the SU lead to 47-43. Koehler sank another three-point shot to get JC to within one point and a jumper from Lee put Juniata head 48-47 with 4:52 left to play.
Brandon Healey's front end of two free throws tied it all up at 48-all at 4:21. Both teams had chances to assume the lead but missed on opportunities.
After Ogle's free throw put Juniata ahead 54-52, the Crusaders had a chance for the game-winning shot after pulling down the rebound on Ogle's second free throw attempt. Healey's three-point attempt was off the mark and the Eagles walked off the court with the victory.
The Eagles defense held SU to under 30% shooting overall (29.3%). It was the second-lowest shooting percentage that Juniata has held an opponent to this season.
On the offensive side, JC was 20-of-49 (40.8%) from the floor. Juniata led in points in the paint, 18-12, in points off of turnovers, 11-9, and in bench points, 13-8.
The Eagles return home to host second-place Scranton on Saturday. Game time from Memorial Gym will be at 4 p.m.