Last-second three-pointer sends CUA to first conference loss

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HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Freshman Pete Schramm scored on a layup to put CUA on top of Juniata 54-52 as time ticked away on Friday night, but the Eagles Dan Sekulski unleashed a deep three-pointer that found the bottom of the net as time expired to send CUA to a heartbreaking 55-54 loss.  The setback drops the Cardinals to 10-3 overall and 1-1 in the Landmark Conference while Juniata improves to 8-5 and 1-1.

Jason Banzhaf's bucket with 6:15 to play put CUA on top of Juniata 50-47 and that lead stood for the next three minutes until the Eagles Nate Higgins sank a pair of free throws at the 3:11 mark to cut the Cardinals lead to just one.

With 2:30 remaining Jeremy Hays got inside for a layup to put Juniata up by one 51-50, and the score remained that way until the final minute. 

Higgins missed a layup with 45 seconds on the clock and CUA's Nate Koenig pulled down the rebound.  The ball found its way into senior R.J. Dixon's hands for CUA and he was eventually fouled.  Juniata then called a timeout and after the teams came back out on the floor, Dixon headed to the line looking to give the Cardinals the lead.  The ever-steady guard did just that as he sank both attempts to make it a 52-51 game.

On Juniata's next possession Sekulski was fouled by Koenig, and so the now Eagles had a chance to take the lead with only 22 seconds remaining.  Sekulski missed his first attempt, but recovered to make his second shot, setting up an exhilarating final few seconds.

CUA brought the ball down the floor and looked to win the game, and following Schramm's bucket off an assist from Dixon, it appeared as though the Cardinals had done just that.  But Sekulski had other plans as he raced back down the other end and launched a 30-footer that dropped through the net and sent CUA to its toughest loss of the season.

Banzhaf finished with 20 points for CUA, but Juniata limited the Cardinals leading scorer to only five second half points.  Dixon added 15 tallies for CUA, but no other Cardinal scored more than four points.

Banzhaf and Scramm led CUA with six boards apiece on a night in which the Cardinals got to the foul line only eight times and committed an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers.

Sekuliski led the home team with 18 points, while Hays added 11.  Austin Ankey pulled down a team-high seven rebounds for Juniata and the Eagles registered 11 steals on the night.

The first half was tightly-contested with CUA holding the lead for the majority of the 20 minutes.  The Cardinals' largest lead was five, which came on a pair of free throws by Banzhaf with 39 seconds remaining, but Bruce Knowles scored on a layup just before the halftime buzzer to make it a 28-25 game in favor of CUA at the break.

CUA gets right back to work on Saturday as the Cardinals travel to take on Susquehanna in Selinsgrove, Pa.  Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.