TOWSON, Md. — The lead changed hands only two times during tonight's Landmark Conference game between Goucher and Juniata in the Decker Sports & Recreation Center.
The Gophers got on the scoreboard first thanks to a layup by Troy DeShields (Seaford, Del./Sussex Technical) just 39 seconds into the contest, but they didn't stay in front for long. The Eagles responded by rattling off 13 consecutive points, so not only did the lead change hands, but the visitors also opened up a double-digit advantage on a 3-point basket by Kyle Koehler.
A 15-4 run by Goucher that featured a pair of 3-point baskets by Tucker Canary (Silver Spring, Md./Montgomery Blair) and one by Brian Ball (Rockville, Md./Rockville) produced a 17-17 tie with 5:49 remaining in the first half, but Juniata didn't surrender its lead. In fact, by halftime, the Eagles had gone back on top by four, 30-26.
Over the first 10 and a half minutes of the second half, Juniata's cushion fluctuated between one and six points. It went from four points down to one when Ball connected on another 3-point shot with 9:22 left to play, and on Goucher's next possession, Ball fed Chris Outing (New Windsor, N.Y./James I. O'Neill) in the paint for a short jumper that put the Gophers ahead for the first time since 2-0.
They managed to hold on to the lead the rest of the way to earn a 58-53 victory.
The win, Goucher's first over Juniata since January 28, 2011, also allowed the Gophers (3-9, 2-1 Landmark) to move into a tie with Susquehanna for fourth place in the conference standings.
During Juniata's 13-0 run early in the contest, Goucher went 0-for-11 from the field, missed its only two free-throw attempts and committed four turnovers. The Gophers were able to get their shooting percentage up to .393 by halftime and to .400 by game's end.
Following Outing's basket in the second half that put Goucher ahead to stay, Norman Allen II (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) hit a jumper from the baseline that made the score 47-44 in favor of the Gophers and then a 3-pointer that extended the lead to 50-44.
Ball saw his most extensive playing time of the season. The freshman guard came in with his team trailing 17-9 and immediately nailed his first shot, which he launched from 3-point range. He knocked down three more 3-pointers in the second half and finished with a team-high 17 points.
Outing contributed 12 points and a team-best 10 rebounds to the victory for his third double-double of the season.
Marcus Lee was the leading scorer for Juniata as he tallied 17 points off the bench. Kyle Koehler added 11 points and Nate Ogle was credited with a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Eagles (5-7, 0-4 Landmark) were 14-for-27 from the field (.519) in the first half, but cooled off in the final 20 minutes to wind up with a .424 shooting percentage. They made only one of the 17 three-pointers they threw up, going 0-for-11 from distance in the second half.
All three of the Landmark Conference games the Gophers have played so far, including the one tonight, were at home. They'll take their show on the road for the first time in 2014-15 when they pay a visit to the nation's capital this coming Thursday night to face Catholic. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.