Late Costly Turnover Sinks Panthers

Photo credit to Erika Helo.
Photo credit to Erika Helo.

Juniata forced a game-clinching turnover in the final seconds of Monday's contest against Pitt-Bradford to knock off the Panthers, 74-72, at the KOA Arena.

Following a pair of Juniata free throws, Pitt-Bradford called a timeout trailing 73-72 with seven seconds remaining. Out of the timeout, Juniata's Seth Brewer jumped in front of Sahlil Harris' inbounds pass scripted for Manny Welch, and Brewer was promptly fouled with three seconds left on the clock.

Brewer made the first of two foul shots, but missed the second leaving the Panthers' one final opportunity. Harris' heave from mid-court was off the mark, allowing the Eagles to escape with a two-point win and dealing Pitt-Bradford its second straight defeat.

The Panthers trailed by as much as 11 in the second half before rallying to tie the game with 5:17 left. A 15-4 scoring run, sparked by six points from Evan Greening and a three from Harris, tied the game for the first time at 66 apiece.

Pitt-Bradford went ahead for the first time, 67-66, on Greening's free throw at the 3:31 mark. Brewer converted inside on the ensuing Eagle possession to flip the lead, and the teams traded three-pointers to make it 71-70 Juniata with 2:24 remaining.

After a series of turnovers by both teams, Harris hit a baseline jumper with 33 seconds left to give Pitt-Bradford a 72-71 advantage. However, the Panthers were whistled for a foul on the next play, and Juniata's Brandon Martinazzi sunk two free throws to set up the game' final frantic moments.

The Eagles scored the first six points of the contest and stretched their lead to 12 midway through the first half before Pitt-Bradford started chipping away at the lead. Christian Kelly-Perkins' two free throws shortly before halftime trimmed the Panthers' deficit to 41-38 at the break.

Juniata shot a scorching 73 percent in the first half, hitting 16 of 22 field goal attempts. The Eagles were limited to just 39 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes as the Panthers ramped up the defensive pressure.

Pitt-Bradford hit on 43 percent of its attempts, including connecting for seven three-pointers, and the Panthers were 21 of 28 from the free throw line. The Blue and Gold turned the ball over 10 times in the second half though, leading to eight Eagle points, and were outscored by eight in the paint.

Greening finished with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds to record his eight double-double. Fateem Brockington added a season-high 18 points, including hitting four three-pointers, and Jaewon Mitchell totaled six points, 12 boards and four blocks off the bench.

It was the Blue and Gold's final game before winter break and came just two days after Saturday's narrow AMCC loss to Mt. Aloysius.

Pitt-Bradford drops to 3-5 on the season and will resume play New Year's Eve at Houghton.