SU Men Can’t Close the Gap vs. Juniata

SU Men Can’t Close the Gap vs. Juniata

SELINSGROVE, Pa. – Several times it appeared the Susquehanna men's basketball was close to putting away visiting Juniata for good but the Eagles kept fighting, eventually clawing their way to a 54-52 defeat of the Crusaders on Wednesday night.

SU (14-6, 7-4) rebounded from a three-point halftime deficit to lead by as many as eight points in the second half. Susquehanna maintained a four-point edge, 47-43, with eight minutes to play in the game but Juniata hit key shots down the stretch while shooting woes that had plagued SU all game continued to plague the team in the final minutes.

Susquehanna shot just 29 percent for the game while the Eagles (11-10, 5-7) countered with a 41 percent effort. SU also sank 28 percent of its three-point shots and 52 percent of its free throws while Juniata shot 31 percent from three-point range and 69 percent at the free throw line.

Brandon Hedley (Silver Spring, Md./Salisbury Prep) and Matt McGugan (Silver Spring, Md./Blake) had 13 points apiece and Steven Weidlich (Watchung, N.J./Watchung Hills) added 11. Josh Miller (Strasburg, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg) accounted for 14 of the Crusaders' 41 rebounds.

The first 10 minutes of the game favored SU. Susquehanna led 9-6 three minutes into the game and a jumper from Evan Austin (Knoxville, Md./St. John's Catholic Prep) made it a six-point contest, 14-8, with 11 minutes to play.

Juniata countered, though, with a 10-0 run to jump ahead 18-14 inside the seven-minute mark. Weidlich tied the game at 18 on a layup and a free throw from Connor Mailen (Taylor, Pa./Riverside) handed SU a 22-20 advantage at the 4:12 mark of the half.

The Eagles went ahead on their next possession and remained ahead for the duration of the half, eventually taking a 27-24 lead into the locker room.

McGugan's layup less than five minutes into the second half knotted the score at 33 and with 11:37 remaining, SU was ahead by eight (42-34) following a McGugan jumper.

Jason Dietrich's (Maytown, Pa./Kutztown University) trey just inside the 10-minute mark made it a 45-38 game but Juniata was not done. Kyle Koehler scored the next five points for Juniata with his trey at the 1:48 mark making it a 53-48 Eagles lead.

Two free throws from Weidlich 90 seconds later pulled the Crusaders within one, 53-52. Hedley was fouled with eight seconds remaining, breathing life into SU, but the junior missed both free throws and Juniata held on for the win.

Susquehanna remains at home to host Moravian on Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. The game marks Pepsi Day for the Susquehanna athletics department.