Eagles Tame Lions, Advance to Second Round of the NCAA Tournament

Morgan Instone had a team-high 11 points with five blocks as Juniata advanced past Piedmont in the NCAA Tournament.
Morgan Instone had a team-high 11 points with five blocks as Juniata advanced past Piedmont in the NCAA Tournament.

CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky.-  The Juniata women's basketball team used suffocating first half defense to edge Piedmont, 63-52, Friday evening at Thomas More in the Connor Center. 

Morgan Instone (Johnstown, Pa./Bishop McCourt) amassed 11 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Dani Atkinson (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Catholic) tallied 10 points, four rebounds and three steals while Gracie Stauffer (Loysville, Pa./West Perry) totaled 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks off the bench. Veronica Cosmopolis (Lima, Peru/Colegio Carmelitas) had nine points and three steals. Rachael Anstine (York, Pa./Dallastown) added nine points and seven rebounds. Haley Myers (Huntingdon, Pa./Juniata Valley) and Kaeana Rebert (Hanover, Pa./South Western) each added five points off the bench while Madison Colyer (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) scored four.

Cosmopolis drilled a jumper to net the opening bucket. Anstine made a shot and Piedmont got on the board with a midrange jumper of their own. Instone sank two free throws and Cosmopolis stole the ball and finish in transition on the other end. Two Lion free throws made it 8-4 with four minutes to go. Juniata closed the quarter on a 9-0 run as they led 17-4 after one. JC totaled four steals in the first period.

Juniata continued to control the game, and with five minutes to go in the second quarter, Juniata led 28-12. Cosmopolis drilled a three off a pass from Atkinson, Stauffer went three of four at the line, Rebert swished a three and Anstine swished a jumper to push the lead to 27 at 39-12 with a little over two minutes to go. The Lions scored in the paint with thirty-seven seconds to go, JC countered with a three from Atkinson as they went into the half up 41-14.

The Eagles shot 53.6% from the floor, 44.4% from three while holding Piedmont to 20.8% from the floor and 16.7% from behind the three-point line.

Instone swished a jumper off a pass from Bethany Spencer (York, Pa./York Suburban), but the Eagles didn't score again for another three minutes as Piedmont slowly began to chip away at the lead. With three and half minutes to go Stauffer made a jumper to push the lead back to 19 at 45-26. Four straight points from Colyer made it 49-29. A Stauffer jumper off a feed from Spencer in the final seconds of the quarter made it 51-32 at the end of three.

In the first four minutes of the fourth, Piedmont put some pressure on the Eagles and two made free throws pulled them within 14 at 53-39. On the ensuing Eagle possession, Juniata broke through the Lion full court pressure when Stauffer found Atkinson cutting to the hoop for a layup. Anstine grabbed an offensive rebound in traffic and laid it in to make it 57-39. 

With a little over a minute left Piedmont pulled within 11, but the Eagles scored once more on an Instone jumper and took care of the ball to get the win.

The Eagles will face the winner of #3 Thomas More/Oglethorpe Saturday at 6:30.