ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa., The Juniata College women's basketball team traveled to Elizabethtown on Thursday looking to avenge an 80-61 home loss to the Blue Jays earlier in the season. The Eagles entered the game hot off of two consecutive conference victories against Drew and Goucher, but could not keep the streak alive as they fell to the Blue Jays 71-58 to drop to 2-3 against Landmark rivals.
Kelsey Livoti (Altoona, PA / Bishop Guilfoyle) led Juniata with 12 points. Natalie Hager (Franklin, PA / Franklin) scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds. Hager is averaging 8.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. She leads the team in steals (30) and rebounds (97).
Elizabethtown started the game on an 8-0 run to take an early advantage, but the Eagles answered with eight of their own to tie the game. Livoti put Juniata on the board with a three-pointer four minutes into the contest. The senior captain leads the team with 13.6 points-per-game. After a jumper from Livoti, Olivia Halfpenny (McVeytown, PA / Mifflin County) drained a trey to make it an 8-8 game. Halfpenny was three-for-three from behind the arch.
Later in the first, a Katy Leamer jumper (Bellwood, PA / Bellwood Antis) ended another 8-0 Blue Jay spree with just over two minutes left in the first half. Leamer added a three with two seconds left on the clock to keep Juniata within reach at 34-22. The sophomore has played well off of the bench as of the late for the Eagles, but finished the game with just five points.
The Eagles played better in the second half, shooting 41.4% compared to 28.6% through the first 20 minutes of play. Just under three minutes after the break, Freshman Danielle Atkinson (Lancaster, PA / Lancaster Catholic) cut into the Elizabethtown lead with a three-pointer. Atkinson is second on the team with 9.5 points-per-game. The guard has played well in her rookie campaign and finished the night with seven points to go along with four rebounds. Moments later Livoti added a free-throw to bring the Eagles within nine at 40-31. However, Juniata would not come any closer as the Blue Jays continued to keep them at arms length the rest of the way.
After falling behind early, the Eagles chipped away at the Elizabethtown lead, but ultimately could not get a rythm going. Coach Danny Young-Urich thought her team played well at times, but was "unable to put consecutive posessions, minutes together." She added, "We sent them to the line way too often and fouled too many shooters." Turnovers were again an area of concern for Juniata, "Coming in, I thought limiting turnovers and having a positive rebound margin were the keys to the game. We got outrebounded by seven and had 20 turnovers, which resulted in 18 points for them. They also had 11 second chance points to our eight and zero points respectively." The team will have a week to regroup before looking to add another win against a conference oppenent, when they will take on Merchant Marine.
The loss puts Juniata at 4-10 on the season and 2-3 in the Landmark Conference play. The Blue and Gold remains in the hunt for a spot in the conference tournament. The Eagles will have a week to regroup as they do not play again until next Saturday, the 17th. Tip-off at Memorial Gymnasium is set for 2 p.m. The men will follow to complete the doubleheader at 4 p.m.
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