Strong Play from Eagles Nearly Knocks Off Greyhounds; Juniata Falls 71-66

Strong Play from Eagles Nearly Knocks Off Greyhounds; Juniata Falls 71-66

HUNTINGDON, PA – The Juniata women's basketball team played an aggressive, tight game against the Moravian Greyhounds, but were defeated 71-66 Monday night.

The conference foes went back and forth in the first quarter, tying three times in the final two minutes. A jumper from Natalie Hager (Franklin, PA / Franklin) put the Eagles up 16-15 with 14 seconds to go, but Moravian's Alexis Wright would score on a buzzer-beater to give the Greyhounds a 17-16 edge into the second quarter. 

Juniata wasted no time to start the second, as two layups from Hager and two free throws from Bailey Swogger (Tyrone, PA / Bellwood-Antis) put them up by five.

Solid defense and quick buckets took the Eagles into halftime with a one-point lead at 36-35. 

Hager continued to dominate the court in the second half, banking a layup and a three-point shot early. A jumper from Dani Atkinson (Lancaster, PA / Lancaster Catholic) made it a six point game (47-41) with 4:52 in the third before Moravian would go on an 11-3 run to take the lead. The Greyhounds finished the quarter with a five-point lead, then opened up the fourth with a 7-0 run. 

The Eagle climbed their way back into the game, leaning on solid defense and the hands of Atkinson and Hager. Two foul shots from Atkinson followed by a quick layup by Hager gave Juniata the jolt they were looking for. Atkinson hit the three at 6:10 to make it 64-58 Moravian. She would get the ball again and make the bucket to put the Eagles within four. Kelly Leamer (Altoona, PA / Bellwood-Antis) later got the defensive rebound and passed the ball down to Katy Leamer (Altoona, PA / Bellwood-Antis) for the layup. 

Moravian responded with a bucket of their own at the four minute mark. Juniata continued to fight and got the ball to Hager once more. Hager's jumper was good and Juniata found themselves within two (66-64) at 3:12. As time began to wind down, the Greyhounds pulled away with a good layup and three free throws for a 71-66 final. 

"The girls played a solid 40-minutes tonight," head coach Danny Young-Uhrich said. "We had a couple moments that we couldn't really get our footing and they (Moravian) got a couple runs in the third and fourth but the girls responded well."

Leading the effort with an impressive stat line was Hager. Hager finished the game with a career-high 26 points. She tacked on 15 rebounds to earn a double-double, picked up six blocks and four steals. 

"The girls played hard and put some things together tonight," Young-Uhrich said. "Nat's stat line is super, super impressive, Bailey played tough defense and Rachael pulled in 10 boards that we really needed.  I'm proud of the effort." 

Atkinson followed Hager's lead with 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. 

Swogger impressed on defense with five steals and two blocks. She also recorded six rebounds and eight points. 

Rachael Anstine (York, PA / Dallastown) played a tough game, with 10 rebounds (eight defensive) and three blocks. 

Kelly Leamer led the offensive effort off the bench with 10 points and notched five rebounds. 

Juniata edged out Moravian in rebounds 53-52, finished with a 16-7 advantage in second chance points and a 14-9 advantage off the bench. Their 14 steals and 11 blocked shots mark season-bests for the team this year. 

After Snowstorm Jonas delayed the matchup between the Greyhounds and Eagles twice, Juniata faces a quick turnaround as they prepare for Goucher on Wed. Jan. 27.

Tip-off in Memorial Gym between the Eagles and Gophers is scheduled for 7pm.