#4 Alvernia Topples Top-Seeded Juniata

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Huntingdon, Pa. (Mar. 3, 2012) - For the second time in three years Alvernia University (19-8) has knocked off the ECAC top seed in semifinal action.  Saturday the #4 Crusaders overcame a five-point halftime deficit and toppled #1 Juniata, 65-62 at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

Two years ago Alvernia knocked off top-seeded Catholic University in a semfinal.  This time around it will be again be #3 Catholic--a semfinal winner over LaRoche--facing in the ECAC Final Sunday afternoon at 2:00 at Juniata.

Alvernia was again led by its three seniors who have carried the team this season. Senior sharpshooter Stefan Thompson (Philadelphia, Pa./G.A.M.P.) picked up where he left off as he went 5-10 from beyond the arc and scored 22 points. Thompson--who also went 5-for-10 from the arc in the Crusaders' quarterfinal win--started the game by draining two quick 3s to give the Crusaders six points in the opening seconds.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game," said Thompson.  "After a long ride we wanted to come out to a good start. We kept fighting the whole game to keep the lead."

He played all forty minutes.

Senior 'big man' Corey Boone (Howard, Pa./Bald Eagle) also contributed with 11 points and eight rebounds. Alvernia's five starters played the majority of the game as they only tallied five points off the bench.

Juniata's hit 50 percent from the floor over the first 20 minutes and when Alex Raymond hit a 3 to close out the first half, Juniata was up by a score of 39-34.

The Crusaders ramped up the defense in the second half and the Eagles were held to an astounding 1-for-25 from the floor over the first 16 minutes of the half.

With 2:56 remaining in the game, Thompson hit a jump shot to push the Crusader lead to nine, 58-49. Juniata battled back again and sunk three 3-point shots in the games closing two minutes to pull back within one possession.

With eight seconds remaining and the Crusader lead at just three, 65-62.  Juniata immediately fouled Crusader point guard Lamont Clark (Parkesburg, Pa./Octorara) on the inbound. Clark went to the line but missed both shots setting up a potential game tying three pointer for the Eagles. Lucas Mellott secured the defensive rebound and dribbled down the court but his three-point attempt was off the mark and the Crusaders snuck out as the victors.

Senior Brian Nerney (Middletown, N.J./Red BAnk Catholic) scored nine points to go with nine rebounds.  "The game was a total grind but beating the first seed at home is a great win," said Nerney. "Defense definitely won that game. Its something we take pride in."

Sophomore point guard Chris Davis (Norristown, Pa./Norristown) had a very strong game for the Crusaders with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Catholic University defeated LaRoche College by a score of 66-56 on the other side of the bracket. The Crusaders play Catholic in the ECAC finals Sunday afternoon in hopes of bringing home an ECAC title.

#4 Alvernia 65, #1 Juniata 62