Juniata clinches Landmark Conference tourney berth with 67-49 win over Goucher
HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Juniata College men's basketball clinched its first Landmark Conference Tournament berth since 2008 on Saturday, after outshooting visiting Goucher College on its way to a 67-49 win over the Gophers at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.
The win improved the Eagles' record to 17-7 overall, the most regular season victories in program history and matching the Juniata record for most overall victories. Juniata also improved to 9-4 in the Landmark Conference, securing a berth in the four-team Landmark Conference tourney which begins play with semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
The Eagles have one final regular season game on their schedule, a date with archrival Susquehanna University on Saturday, Feb. 18, in Selinsgrove, Pa.
Sophomore Kevin Stapleton (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) led Juniata with 15 points behind 6-of-12 shooting from the field with a pair of three-pointers. Junior Alex Raymond (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) and Brian Scholly (State College, Pa./State College Area) added 10 points apiece, and each drained a pair of treys.
Lucas Mellott (Warfordsburg, Pa./Southern Fulton) hauled down a team-high six rebounds, leading a Juniata squad that outperformed Goucher 37 to 34 on the glass. Jeremy Hays (McMechen, W.Va./John Marshall) dished out four assists, while Dan Sekulski (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone Area) and Scholly each tallied three assists.
Juniata jumped out to a 38-24 halftime lead behind a 16-of-30 (.533) shooting performance in the first half.
The Eagles held a 12-9 advantage at the 15:06 mark of the first following a trey by Goucher's Damon Brooks, but Scholly quickly responded for Juniata on the Eagles' next possession.
That three-pointer ignited an 18-5 Juniata run lasting over eight minutes, ending with the Eagles holding a 30-14 lead with 6:40 remaining following a Sekulski foul shot. Juniata maintained at least a 12-point lead over the remainder of the half, and Stapleton's layup at the buzzer sent the Eagles to the locker room with the 14-point advantage.
Juniata's shooting cooled to 32.0 percent in the second half, but Goucher lost its shooting touch completely as the Gophers were just 6-of-27 (.222) from the floor in the second stanza.
The closest Goucher came to catching Juniata was following a pair of Marcus Cotton foul shots early in the half, briefly cutting the margin to 12 points at 38-26. The Eagles' lead reached its widest in the final two minutes, as an Alex Mace (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) layup with 1:24 remaining in the game left Juniata holding a 23-point lead at 67-44.
Troy Parker, Jr., led Goucher with 12 points on the night, while Manney Wood came off the bench to score 11 for the Gophers. Cotton finished with eight points, but grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.