Gophers Come Up Two Points Short Against Eagles

Gophers Come Up Two Points Short Against Eagles

TOWSON, Md. — Goucher's Briana Bull (Baltimore, Md./Owings Mills) made nearly as many shots from the field as the entire Juniata team and finished with a game-high total of 24 points, but it was the shot that the sophomore guard couldn't knock down on the final possession of tonight's Landmark Conference contest that allowed the visiting Eagles to escape with a 45-43 victory over the Gophers.

The Eagles (5-7, 1-3 Landmark), who owned a 25-17 lead at the end of the first half, appeared to be on the verge of putting this one away when they went ahead 35-23 on a jumper in the paint by Natalie Hager with 4:23 remaining in the third quarter. The Gophers, however, closed out the period on a 9-2 run that featured three baskets by Bull and just five points separated the two teams as the fourth quarter got under way.

Although Goucher made only one of its first 11 field goal attempts in the final period, head coach Patrick Daniel's squad still managed to creep two points closer on the scoreboard. After Katy Leamer restored Juniata's edge to five points by canning two free throws, Amaka Ezeani (Silver Spring, Md./Paint Branch) scored in the paint on back-to-back possessions to reduce the Eagles' advantage to 39-38 with 5:01 left to play.

Three possessions later, a blocked shot by Ezeani ignited a fastbreak that ended in Bull sinking her 11th basket of the contest. She was also fouled on the play and tacked on the free throw, putting the Gophers (5-7, 0-3 Landmark) ahead, 41-39.

The next two Juniata possessions ended in made baskets by Hager and the Eagles were back on top, 43-41, with just over two minutes left to play.

The next change to the score didn't take place until Ezeani rebounded her own missed shot and put it in with :22 showing on the clock. She was also fouled on the play, but couldn't convert the free-throw attempt that would have put Goucher ahead by a point.

The Gophers got the Eagles to miss a potential game-winning shot by Rachel Anstine with 5.2 seconds remaining, but they also fouled Anstine as she grabbed the rebound. With 3.8 seconds left to play, Anstine made both of her attempts, giving Juniata a 45-43 cushion.

Bull got a decent look on a shot that would have forced overtime, but bounded hard off the backboard as the buzzer sounded.

Bull's 11 field goals were only two fewer than Juniata's total of 13. She accounted for all seven of the points the Gophers tallied in the first quarter and their first two points of the second period. Monique Welch (Reisterstown, Md./Franklin) was the first Goucher player other than Bull to get into the scoring act, which she did by canning a free throw midway through the second quarter. A short time later, Hannah Kuehl (Plymouth, N.H./Plymouth Regional) buried a mid-range jumper, the first field goal for the Gophers by somebody other than Bull.

Anstine captured scoring honors for Juniata as she contributed 14 points to the win.

"We showed great heart and effort in the second half, but poor execution cost us this game," according to Daniel. "This is very disappointing, but we get back at it tomorrow to prepare for Thursday."

The opponent on Thursday will be Catholic. The game is set to tip-off at 7 p.m. at the DuFour Center in the nation's capital.