HUNTINGDON, Pa.- Trailing by 14 points late in the second half against Scranton, the Juniata men's basketball team had their work cut out for them. A 21-7 run slashed the deficit to just two points with 11 seconds left but a Seth Brewer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) three-point attempt with time expiring fell short as the Royals held off the Eagles 64-61 on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gym.
Juniata (11-10, 3-7 LC) finished with a higher field goal percentage as it was good on 26-of-51 shots (51%) compared to 18-of-40 (45%) for Scranton. The big difference came at the charity stripe as the Royals converted 20-of-31 (64.5%) to Juniata's 5-of-11 (45.5%).
Both teams struggled early on in the first half. Scranton (16-5, 8-2 LC) led 7-4 at the 14:18 mark but a 13-5 run by the Eagles gave JC a 17-12 lead with 10:01 to play in the half. The Royals tied the game at 21-all and after a Trevor Clune (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) jumper at 6:23 put JC ahead 23-21, Scranton gained the lead back on a three-point shot from Chris McCullough at 6:06. Three free throws boosted the advantage to 27-23 with 5:25 left on the clock. Scranton's lead stood at 34-28 with 54 seconds remaining until Clune made a layup with 31 seconds left to cut the deficit to four points, 34-30, at the break.
The Eagles trailed 36-34 when Scranton went on an 18-6 run to increase its lead to 54-40 with 7:21 left in the contest. JC began to chip away at its deficit and got the score to 55-50 at 3:44. A pair of free throws from Scranton's Kyle Deverna and a three pointer from Ethan Danzig boosted the Royals' lead to 60-50 with 2:40 remaining. Damon Rickens (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) answered for Juniata with a trey at 2:27 and a traditional three-point play from Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa./Bishop Carroll) made it a two-possession contest, 60-56, with 1:54 left.
John Vitkus scored on a layup and following a missed basket from Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll), collected the defensive rebound. Scranton looked to go up by six but an offensive foul by Kevin Dooland turned the ball over to Juniata. After a couple of missed baskets, the Eagles finally came through on a Martinazzi jump shot with 36 ticks left. A Vitkus free throw with 17 seconds left made it 63-58. After missing the second attempt, the Eagles collected the rebound and Paul Martello (York, Pa./York Catholic) drained the trey to now put the score at 63-61 with 11 seconds left. Kyle Deverna was sent to the line and he made one of two shots. With a chance to possibly send the game into overtime, Brewer took a three-point with time expiring but it was off the mark and the game was over.
Martinazzi led the Eagles with 19 points. Lee added 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting and also has seven rebounds. Clune had a balanced game with eight points, four rebounds, and three assists.
Both teams had 29 rebounds. Juniata led in points in the paint 28-14.
The Eagles return to Memorial Gym on Wednesday night to host Elizabethtown. Tip off will be at 7:00 p.m.