By: Jennifer Jones
Director of Sports Information
firstname.lastname@example.org • juniatasports.net
HUNTINGDON, Pa. – The Juniata College women's basketball team erased a 17-point first half deficit to earn the 72-69 win over Landmark Conference rival Susquehanna University Wednesday night in its final regular season home game. Juniata (13-11, 6-7 Landmark) continues its hunt for the final conference tournament spot with the win. They now sit in a tie for fourth place with Drew University. Susquehanna dropped to 11-12 overall and 5-8 in Landmark play.
"I think it does speak volumes to our girls that we can comeback 17 points in a game that mattered this much," said head coach Danny Young-Uhrich. "I think it is attributed to our experience and our leadership. I think in a situation like this it really helped us. Once again, Jordan came up with some clutch free throws. I really think that our seniors stepped up."
The Eagles were led by senior Kate McDonald (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa./State College Area) who finished with a game-high 22 points. She also grabbed game-highs of nine rebounds and eight steals. Fellow senior Jordan Hileman (Williamsburg, Pa./Williamsburg) netted her fourth straight double-digit point performance, finishing with 14 points after going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Junior Kelsey Livoti (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) picked up 12 points of her own in the win.
Juniata shot 53 percent from the floor, 57 percent behind the arch, as team in the second half to fuel the comeback and shot 93 percent from the free throw line to secure the win. The Eagles scored 26 points off 21 Crusader turnovers and saw its bench put up 11 points.
Susquehanna came out of the gate on fire and jumped out to the 14-0 lead before the Eagles responded. They fought back into the game, pulling within five (30-25) with 39 seconds left in the first half. The Crusaders hit a three with 27 seconds on the clock to close scoring and took a 33-25 lead going into the break.
The second half turned into a dogfight down the stretch as the Eagles clawed their way to within two points (52-50) after Hileman hit a pair of free throws with 9:27 on the clock. Freshman Sarah Sherman (Lansdale, Pa./Methacton) drained a three from the top of the key to give Juniata the lead (53-52) for the first time in the contest.
"She made things happen," said Young-Uhrich of Sherman. "She accepted her role. She went in and did it, and did a great job."
Both teams were going back and forth when Juniata took the lead off a pair of free throws from McDonald. She then stole the ball and took it the other way for the bucket and was fouled going up. McDonald's three-point play gave Juniata the 66-62 lead. Livoti then hit a layup with 3:48 left that gave Juniata its longest lead of the night, 68-62.
The Crusaders chipped the lead down to one (68-67) with 26 seconds remaining off a layup and called timeout. They immediately fouled Hileman on the inbounds and sent her to shoot two. She drained them both to extend the lead back out to three. With five seconds left, Susquehanna hit a jumper on the baseline to pull within one again. McDonald, thinking fast, grabbed the ball quickly and inbounded it to Hileman who was fouled with three seconds remaining. She hit both free throws again and the Crusaders, out of timeouts, could not get a shot off before time expired.
Juniata closes its regular season on the road at Drew University this Saturday, Feb. 22. The Eagles fell 67-62 back on January 18 when the teams met in Huntingdon. They are 12-2 all-time against the Rangers and have won nine of their last 10 matchups dating back to the 2008-09 season. The winner of Saturday's game will face regular season champion University of Scranton in the tournament semifinals.
"I don't doubt how bad these kids want it," added Young-Uhrich. "I don't doubt it one bit. It's just going out and executing. They want, and hopefully they put themselves in a position to deserve a playoff spot."
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