Seniors Help Eagles to 56-53 Upset of Moravian on Road

Seniors Help Eagles to 56-53 Upset of Moravian on Road

By: Jennifer Jones
Director of Sports Information •
Photo: Jennifer Jones

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Juniata College women's basketball handed Moravian College its first home loss of the season in a 56-53 upset on the Greyhounds Pink Game in Johnston Hall.  Over 1,000 people were in attendance to see only the second time in over 10 years that Juniata (10-11, 3-7 Landmark) defeated Moravian in Bethlehem.  The Greyhounds dropped to 17-4 with the loss, and are 8-2 against Landmark Conference opponents.


"It is a big deal to beat a team like Moravian," said head coach Danny Young-Uhrich.  "But to come up here, and for our girls who were struggling recently to pick up a win under these conditions, that is huge.  We have a lot of young kids out there.  We're dealing with a lot of adversity so for them to focus on the task at hand and pull out a big win, it's huge for us.  It's huge for our momentum this part of the season." 


The Eagles outrebounded Moravian (40-32) and had three finish in double-figure points.  Senior Kate McDonald (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa./State College Area) earned her 14th double-double of the season with game-highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds.  Senior Jordan Hileman (Williamsburg, Pa./Williamsburg) and sophomore Natalie Hager (Franklin, Pa./Franklin) finished with 10 points each, respectively.


"Kate has been doing this consistently all year and Jordan is always our X-Factor," added Young-Uhrich.  "When Jordan plays well, our team is unstoppable.  She's capable of doing a lot of things out there.  She's clutch."


Hileman was just two rebounds away from netting her first double-double of the year.  The point guard went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line and tied for the game-high of four assists.  Hager, in just her second game this season after coming back from injury, put in 21 minutes on the court and went 4-for-9 from the floor.


"Her timing couldn't have been better," Young-Uhrich said of Hager's return.  "Obviously, we would have loved to have her the entire season, cause Lord knows what she would've done for the entire sophomore year.  But her energy, you can't teach that.  She has a knack for basketball.  She has a knack for making plays."


The first five minutes of play were tight between the teams when the Eagles found a spark.  McDonald hit a jumper that was the start of an 18-4 run by Juniata to take the lead.  They would go up by as many as 13 after holding the Greyhounds scoreless for two three minute periods.  Moravian pulled the lead down to seven off a layup by Alesha Marcks with one second remaining.  Juniata went into the break ahead 34-27 outrebounding the Greyhounds 24-14.


The Eagles started the second half on fire, with a 6-0 run to go up by 14, their largest lead of the night.  But Moravian began to chip away at the lead until they back within four points for the first time since six minutes into game.


Young-Uhrich called timeout to regroup and Juniata came out attacking.  Hager earned a trip to the free throw line with six minutes left and put the lead back to five.  But back-to-back layups by the Greyhounds pulled them within one (50-49) with 4:35 to play.


The Eagles made two big stops and Hager hit a layup with 3:09 left to push the lead to three.  After Hileman hit two free throws to give Juniata the 54-49 lead, the Greyhounds responded with a three to pull back within two with 2:23 remaining.  It would be the last field goal of the game as both teams struggled from the floor.  But the Eagles capitalized from the free throw line. 


Still holding on to a two-point lead (54-52), Hileman grabbed the rebound off a missed Greyhound layup and was immediately fouled with 45 seconds on the clock.  She hit both free throws, putting the Eagles up by four.  Marcks was fouled with 14 seconds left and only made one of the double-bonus to end scoring.  Moravian got a three off with five seconds left, but Hileman grabbed the rebound and held on through the end of regulation.


Moravian was led by Marcks who finished with 11 points, the only Greyhound in double-figures.  Juniata remains on the road this Wednesday when they travel to Goucher College.  Tipoff is at 7 p.m.  The Eagles defeated Goucher 82-46 back on January 22.  They are 13-0 all-time against the Gophers in a series that dates back to the 2007-08 season.


"We always expect everyone's best effort," added Young-Uhrich.  "Even though our record really isn't reflective of it, I think throughout the years we have definitely gained the respect of our opponents within our conference.  At this point, the conference is wide open for that fourth spot.  So everyone is going to be bringing their best effort.  We just need to make sure we stay focused, and don't get ahead of ourselves.  Use this momentum to propel us, but not get too comfortable with where we're at.  We are in a great position.  Not ideally where we want to be, but it's going to make this part in the season very exciting for everyone out there."


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