Strong First Half Not Enough, as Men’s Basketball Comes Up Short Against Juniata

Strong First Half Not Enough, as Men’s Basketball Comes Up Short Against Juniata

Box Score

TOWSON, Md. - Three Goucher College men's basketball players scored in double-digits, as the Gophers rode a wave into momentum into halftime after taking a lead on visiting Juniata in Landmark Conference action on Wednesday night inside the Decker SRC Arena. 

But, in the second half, Juniata outscored the Gophers by 15 points (54-39) to pull away to an 82-71 victory. With the win, Juniata improved to 20-4 overall and 9-4 in the Landmark Conference. Goucher fell to 0-23 and 0-13 in the Landmark with the defeat. 

To start the contest, Juniata opened an 11-3 lead on Goucher in the first five minutes of action, prompting a Gophers timeout.

That early timeout seemed to light a fire, as the Gophers proceeded to go on an 11-2 run, highlighted by a stingy defense. During that run, Juniata shot only 1-for-6 with 4 turnovers, as Goucher took their first lead at 14-13, on a step back jumper by first-year Jacob Smith (Callaway, Va.) with 9 minutes to go in the first half.

A fast-break layup by junior Gabe Ceribelli (Monkton, Md.) tied the game at 22, as the Gopher bench poured onto the floor to celebrate following a Juniata timeout. The Eagles took a 28-26 lead late in the half, but a three-pointer by senior Elliott Wiley (Baltimore, Md.) and a buzzer-beater three to end the first half by Smith gave the Gophers a 32-28 lead, and an energetic boost heading into the locker room for intermission.

Smith hit another three-pointer at the beginning of the second half to give the Gophers a 7 point lead, their largest of the night, at 35-28.

However, a subsequent flurry of Goucher fouls early in the second half fouls paved the way for Juniata to go on an 11-0 run to retake the lead. The Gophers committed 6 personal fouls, plus a technical foul, in the first 4 minutes of the second half, and put Juanita in the bonus with 15 minutes left to play.

The Gophers continued clawing, and closed to within one, at 46-45, on a deep three by sophomore Dwayne Morton (Waynesville, Mo.) with 12 minutes left in the game. However, a career night from Juniata's Marcus Lee (37 points, on 13-for-19 shooting) helped the Eagles go on a 20-5 run to pull away.

Late in the game, as the Gophers began intentionally fouling to stop the clock. The Eagles went on to miss 6 late free throws, which allowed the Gophers to whittle the Juniata lead back down to 10 on late baskets by Morton and Wiley. However, Juniata was able to hold on for the 11-point win.

Overall on the night for Goucher, Wiley led the way yet again, finishing with 22. It marked the fourth straight game in which the senior guard scored at least 20 for Goucher, as he has now scored in double-figures in 14 of te 15 games he has played in for the 2017-18 season.

Meanwhile, Morton finishing the night with 19 points (on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor), as his 19-point night matched his second-highest total for a game on the season. The double-digit scorers for Goucher were rounded out by Smith, who finished with 13 points.  

The Gophers close out their season on Saturday, with Senior Day home contest against Scranton. The Landmark Conference match-up tips-off at 2 p.m.