Huntingdon, Pa.- The Juniata College men's basketball outlasted Randolph-Macon in the championship game of the 26th Annual Doc Greene Tournament, 75-64, Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gymnasium.
Tournament MVP Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll) had 19 points, All-Tournament team nominee Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa./Bishop Carroll) had 13 points and three assists while Damon Rickens (Altoona, Pa./Bisoph Guilfoyle) had 14 points. Paul Martello (York, Pa./York Catholic) tallied 10 points off the bench. Seth Brewer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) added nine points while Wil Peralta (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) had six points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
The Yellow Jackets buzzed out to a 10-4 lead early, before Lee handed the ball off to a sprinting Martinazzi who took a dribble and laid it in off the glass. A few possessions later Martello found Martinazzi for three as Juniata got within one at 10-9.
The teams went back and forth over the next several minutes, and with just under nine minutes remaining, Martello drove to the hoop and scored to make it 15-15. Brewer swiped an errant Randolph Macon pass and tossed it ahead to Rickens who laid it in off the glass to give the Eagles their first lead of the contest.
The teams stayed within two points as neither team could gain an edge. Rickens hit Lee down low, and he spun away from the defender and banked it in to make it 25-24 Juniata with 3:23 left in the half. Martello made two free throws and the Yellow Jackets scored on back two back tough layups in the paint. Lee sank two free throws to send JC into halftime with a narrow, 29-28 lead.
The opening 10 minutes of the second half were a tense affair, with the Yellow-Jackets taking a narrow 44-40 lead on a three from the corner. Rickens drilled a three from the right wing off a pass from Martello to pull JC within one, and Lee split a pair of free throws to tie the score. RMC hit a three from way behind the line, Lee made two free throws and then on the next possession, spun past his defender and finished high off the glass to make it 48-47 Eagles.
Randolph-Macon retook the lead, 54-52, with 6:15 to go. Some slick high-low action between Peralta and Lee resulted in an easy layup for Lee to tie the score at 54-54. On ensuing defensive possession, Peralta jumped in the passing lane and went the other direction and laid it in to give JC a 56-54 edge. After another stop, Martello drove to the hoop and finished through some contact to make it 58-54. The Yellow Jackets nailed a three to get back within one with 4:57 remaining in the game.
Following a JC timeout, Rickens drilled a three several steps behind the line on the right wing to push the lead back to four at 61-57. The Yellow Jackets scored inside, but two Lee free throws put the lead back at four. RMC made a free throw to make it 63-60. Martinazzi hit a jumper in the lane, but Randolph-Macon responded with a mid-range jumper to stay within three and called timeout.
Following the timeout, with a minute remaining, Martinazzi beat his man off the dribble and drove into the middle of the RMC defense. He tossed it to Brewer who was standing all alone in the left corner. Brewer's shot touched nothing but the bottom of the net. The Eagles made their free throws to ice the game.
RMC outrebounded the Eagles, 29-28. Juniata had the narrowest of advantages in field goal percentage 49.0% to 48.1%. Juniata held a 27-5 advantage at the foul line and scored 22 points off Yellow Jacket turnovers.
JC's 8-0 start is their best start to a season since the 2015-2016 season.
Juniata moves to 8-0 and will host Pitt-Bradford, Monday the 18th at 7:00.