Courtesy of Juniata Athletics
MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – The Juniata women’s basketball team eked out a dramatic 65-62 overtime victory to claim the Pride-Spirit-Honor tournament championship over Penn State Harrisburg in a back-and-forth Sunday afternooncontest.
The first half of play saw little scoring from either team, with Juniata drawing an 11-7 advantage in the first quarter. Juniata opened on a 6-0 stretch that included layups from Bri Bodtorf, Haily Sherman, and Bodtorf again. The Lions hit a layup to get back within four through three minutes. A foul to prevent a Harrisburg layup was to no avail, as they sunk both free throws to get back to 6-4. Emma Coolidge drove for two with an Aleya Eisenberg assist on the next play, but Harrisburg responded to get back to 8-7. Juniata put three more on the board before the quarter ended.
The second quarter saw no scoring through the first three and half minutes, but a three from the left side handed the lead back to the Lions. Sarah Betts passed to Bodtorf for a layup to the right to get back to a 13-10 lead. Betts sank one of two free throws before a five-point run from Harrisburg put Juniata down by one at 15-14. Juniata got back to a 19-15 lead before the half following two of four free throws and a Steph Emert layup following a missed three-pointer.
Harrisburg quickly responded following their slow first half with five straight open the half following a layup and an open three for a 20-19 advantage. Bodtorf got the advantage back to 21-20 with two converted free throws. Harrisburg sank one of two, followed by Emert hitting a pair of free throws to go ahead 23-21. The Lions hit a three from the left to go ahead 24-23, but the Eagles then posted eight unanswered to go ahead 31-24 in a stretch where they went 6 of 8 on free throws. Harrisburg got four points back with Juniata adding layups from Betts, Emert, and Sherman to get a 38-31 lead with ten minutes on the clock.
The sides traded points back in forth early in the fourth, with Juniata’s lead sinking to 42-37 following two straight Lions layups. Following a timeout, Emert sank both free throws after earning a foul, and Sherman sank a three-pointer to give the Eagles a 47-39 lead. Following two straight Harrisburg jumpers, Kynnedy Miller fired a long three-pointer to go ahead 50-43. The Lions then found the space for two straight open three-pointers to get back within one point at 50-49.
Two straight layups for Juniata followed for a 54-49 lead, with Harrisburg following suit with a layup and two-of-two free throws of their own to get back within one yet again with just 35 seconds remaining. A Juniata travel handed the ball back to the Lions with 8 seconds left, setting up for a confusing sequence of events at the buzzer.
Following the Harrisburg inbound, Betts tipped the ball to delay Harrisburg gaining possession, and Harrisburg’s drive with the seconds dwindling led to a questionable defensive foul call on Betts as Harrisburg signaled for a timeout. With tenths of a second remaining, officials indicated three free throws from the line for Harrisburg, with the Lions needing two of three for victory. The Lions hit only one, and the Eagles were unable to get a shot off with two-tenths of a second remaining to send the game into overtime at 54-54.
The Lions opened with three straight off a layup and one of two free throws, but Miller answered back with a three after being unable to thwart the Lions’ defense for a layup. Bodtorf then hit two following a Harrisburg foul, and the Lions answered back with a three-pointer for a 60-59 advantage. Emert then went two-for-two from the line to go ahead by one. The Lions hit a layup for a 62-61 lead with a minute left. Following a Bodtorf block, Sherman was fouled on a breakaway, and she sank both free throws to go ahead by one.
Harrisburg then missed both free throws following a Juniata foul, and they earned a pair of free throws after being denied a breakaway chance. Emert found the net on both free throws, and the Lions were unable to find the net with eight seconds left to give the Eagles a 65-62 victory.
Bodtorf set a new career high as she posted a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. She went 6-13 from the field and 6-8 from the free throw line while also tallying a team-high two blocks and three steals.
Miller led in steals with four while totaling three rebounds, and nine points, including a team-high two three-pointers and an assist.
Emert and Sherman each totaled 14 points. Emert went 9-10 from the free-throw line with two field goals and a three-pointer, while Sherman totaled five field goals, a three-pointer, and a perfect three-for-three on free throws.
Coolidge had a team-best five points off the bench, with nine total rebounds and a steal.
A pair of Eagles players placed on the All-Tournament team for the Pride-Spirit-Honor tournament. Sherman was named MVP, while Bodtorf joined her on the all-tournament team. Sherman collected 29 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and four steals in the tournament, while Bodtorf amassed 32 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, seven steals, and two blocks across the weekend.
Juniata ends November on a three-game winning streak following an 0-4 start to the season, averaging 64.7 points scored and 54.7 points conceded during the streak.
The Eagles get nearly a week before their next contest as they open Landmark Conference play against the Drew Rangers at 2:00 pm on Saturday, December 3, from Memorial Gymnasium. The Eagles are 17-13 against Drew, and they will be seeking their first win against the side since the 2018-19 season.