By: Laura Chapman
Assistant Sports Information Director
firstname.lastname@example.org • juniatasports.net
ALTOONA, Pa. – The Juniata College men's basketball team took the lead against Penn State-Altoona with the first bucket and never let up, earning its first win of the 2013-14 season 69-49 over the Lions, in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament. Senior Kevin Stapleton (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) came away with his first double-double of the season racking up 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"Going into the weekend all we talked about was that we needed to be the team that improves the most out of the tournament in order to be successful," said head coach Greg Curley. "I thought we made progress from yesterday to today. I knew going into this year that we would have a lot of growing pains. We're trying to incorporate a bunch of new guys and were putting some guys in new roles. I felt like we took a good step today, but we've got a long way to go."
The Eagles took the early 15-5 lead and reached halftime with a 13-point lead at 33-20. Juniata picked up its foul shooting performance from the night before, going 4-6 from the line. Senior Jeremy Hays (McMechen, W. Va./John Marshall) racked up 13 points in the first half and Juniata worked for a heavy advantage in rebounds 30-23. Hays finished out the night with a game-high 19 points and Stapleton and senior Lucas Mellott (Warfordsburg, Pa./Southern Fulton) both finished with double-digit rebounds.
"I challenged Kevin," said Curley. "Kevin didn't have his normal game yesterday and that contributed to why we didn't get the result we wanted. He responded today. He came out and set the tone for us early. We need him to play that way. We need him to be one of the main guys every night and really set the tone for how we're going to go about things."
Stapleton spent 27 minutes on the court, finishing with a team high four steals in the game. The Eagles overall nabbed 10 steals on the night, but also turned the ball over 23 times. Juniata was strong with the bounce backs, pulling down 42 rebounds. Juniata got right back to it in the second half with senior Brian Scholly (State College, Pa./State College) draining the first shot of the second period. Scholly was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line, earning All-Tournament honors, and Juniata finished with a 65.2 shooting percentage from the foul line.
"We took a step, but we've got a long way to go," said Curley. "We've got to do better on the glass and we've got to take care of the ball better. The young guys have to adjust and understand just how important it is to take care of the ball. They've got to learn how to be ball strong and also how physical the game is at this level and how you have to go to the glass every time. I think we made progress, but we've got a long way to go and we'll find out more on Wednesday when we go to Dickinson."
Curley was able to give 16 players court time during the game. The reserves combined for 16 points.
"The young guys were good," said Curley. "We played a lot of guys again. I thought all of them took steps. All of them got better. There's a big learning curve, but I think they're receptive and one day at a time we'll get better."
Juniata next travels to Carlisle, Pa. to face Dickinson College, Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m.
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