ST. DAVIDS, Pa.- The Juniata men's basketball team held a 15 point lead late in the first half but host Eastern came back with a big rally as they knocked off JC 73-68 on Saturday afternoon. The loss gives Juniata a record of 11-3 while Eastern improves to 7-6.
The Blue and Gold were poised early in the first half as they led from beginning to end. With their lead standing at 10-8 with 14:35 showing on the game clock, the Eagles went on a 14-5 run that covered six minutes of game time as they took a 24-13 lead. Eastern was able to get to within seven points, 24-17, with 7:04 remaining in the half but another Juniata run, this time 11-3, staked JC to a 35-20 advantage with 4:31 to go until the break.
The tide turned in Eastern's favor at that point as the host Eagles ended the first half on a 14-0 run to close the gap to one point, 35-34, at intermission. Juniata was held to just three shots during that span and turned the ball over four times.
Juniata ended its scoring drought early in the second half as Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll) hit a layup less than a minute in. That was part of an 8-3 JC run that gave the Eagles a 43-37 advantage at 17:04. A 13-3 EU run, which included back-to-back three point shots from Anthony Concepcion, gave Eastern its first lead of the afternoon.
EU was ahead 52-48 with 11:22 remaining in the contest. A 9-0 run by JC, with Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa./Bishop Carroll) contributing seven of those points, tipped the needle in Juniata's direction at it went up 57-52 with 7:01 left to play. The Juniata lead stood at 59-57 with 5:17 remaining. Seven straight points from Eastern, however, gave the home team a lead it would not surrender. EU led 66-59 at the 2:30 mark and led by no less than four points at it grabbed the win.
Even though the Eagles lost by five points, they did outshoot Eastern 50%-40.8% from the field. Despite attempting less three-point shots, Juniata also had a better percentage from that range with a 40%-30.4% advantage. The biggest different came on the foul line as JC only converted 58% of its opportunities to 86.7% for EU.
Three players scored in double figures led by Lee's 18 points. He was also the team's leading rebounder with six boards. Martinazzi scored 14 points and handed out three assists. Justin Fleming (Richmond, Va./Benedictine College Prep) and Seth Brewer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) added 10 points each.
Juniata returns to Landmark Conference play this Wednesday night as they travel to Selinsgrove to take on undefeated #11 Susquehanna. Tip off will be at 7 p.m.