By: Laura Chapman
Assistant Sports Information Director
firstname.lastname@example.org • juniatasports.net
HUNTINGDON, Pa. – In a battle of Landmark Conference third place teams, the Juniata College men's basketball team fell at home to Susquehanna University 86-76. The Eagles shot 52.6% from the field on the night and 80% from the foul line.
"We just stopped playing defense," said head coach Greg Curley. "We're going to have to decide how we are going to compete and play. You have to give them credit. They've got guys that can score, but we have to acknowledge our role in that. We didn't do the things that we needed to do."
The game opened fast with the two teams combining for 18 points in the first four minutes and the Eagles jumping out to the 11-7 lead. The Juniata advantaged hovered at six at 18-12 with 12 minutes on the clock before the first foul of the game was called. With just under 10 minutes in the period, senior Jeremy Hays (McMechen, W. Va./John Marshal) spun the Susquehanna defender guarding him and pulled up at the top of the paint for the jump shot and the eight point Juniata lead at 25-17. The guard notched 13 points in the first 20 minutes going 3-3 from the foul line, finishing with a game-high 24 points and five assists.
At the other end of the court sophomore Kyle Koehler (Chester Springs, Pa./Devon Prep.) forced a turnover in his first start of the season before nailing a trey for the 28-18 Eagle advantage. In the closing minutes of the half, Susquehanna was able to pull within one at 28-27 Juniata with 3:30 on the clock. The Crusaders took the lead on a trey at 30-28 and carried the 34-30 lead into the half.
Out of the break, the Crusaders tacked on the first nine points before Juniata was able to notch two buckets from senior Lucas Mellott (Warfordsburg, Pa./Southern Fulton) and a monster three from classmate Brian Scholly (State College, Pa./State College). Mellott totaled 16 points and seven rebounds on the night.
At the 10 minute mark, Hays drove his way into the lane, but his shot came off the glass and straight to Scholly who banked in the lay up to drop the Crusaders lead to 59-49. Out of a Juniata timeout, Hays grabbed a steal in the high-pressure defense and converted a three-point play, making the layup and the foul shot, to pull to 59-52 Susquehanna. On the very next play the Eagles forced another turnover and Koehler sunk the fast break layup to pull within five. Senior Kevin Stapleton (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) was the hot hand for the Eagles in the closing seven minutes of play knocking down five treys and grabbing a team-high seven rebounds.
The half-court press helped slow down Susquehanna, but the comeback was not to be as the Eagles fell 86-76 dropping to 12-6 on the season and 3-4 in Landmark play. The Eagles next play at home Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. in the first half of a double header with the women's team against The University of Scranton. The game will mark Alumni Day for both programs and the second meeting of the two teams this season. Juniata took the first contest in Scranton 80-79 in overtime.
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