Case Western Reserve University junior forward T.J. Duckett scored 13 of his team-leading 21 points in the second half, en route to earning Tournament Most Valuable Player honors and leading the Spartans to the Doc Greene Tournament Championship with a 66-60 win over host Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania on Saturday.
The win gives the Spartans their first back-to-back victories of the season, as the team improved to 3-4 overall for the campaign. Juniata fell to 5-3 with the loss.
Duckett fell just a rebound shy of a double-double for the second-straight game, finishing the contest with 21 point on a 10-of-16 effort from the field, while collecting nine rebounds and a block, and averaging 21.5 points and 9.0 rebounds on a 74.0% shooting effort (20-of-27) during the two tournament games. Senior guard Javier Alvarez was also named to the All-Tournament Team after finishing Saturday's game with six points, seven assists and three rebounds, and averaging 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists during play at the Doc Greene Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
Junior guard Colin Zucker added 12 points in the title game, making four of his eight three-point attempts, while collecting seven rebounds and five steals. Junior forward Eric Black came off the bench to collect 10 rebounds, his second-straight double-figure rebounding effort, and added seven points.
For the second-straight day at the tournament, the Spartans jumped out to an early lead, after a pair of layups by Duckett and a three-pointer by Zucker gave CWRU a 7-0 lead with 17:03 remaining. Case Western Reserve's lead grew to nine, 13-4, after back-to-back threes by Zucker and freshman forward Sam Hansen with 15:13 to play in the half. However, the hosts battled back, taking their first lead of the game, 24-23, with 5:15 to play in the first, as the Eagles would go on to lead by as many as six in the period. A 5-0 run to end the first by the Spartans, including a layup by Duckett and a buzzer-beating three-pointer off an inbound play by freshman guard Jon Paul Sinacola cut the Juniata's lead to a point, 32-31, heading into halftime.
The Spartans fell behind early in the second half, but trailing 41-37 with 16:04 to play, Case Western Reserve launched on a 14-2 run over the next seven minutes to take the lead in the game for good. Back-to-back made three pointers by junior forward Jake Lavis and Zucker extended the lead to eight, 51-43, with 8:33 to play, and the Spartans would see their lead climb to as many as nine points twice – once on a layup by Eric Black with 3:48 remaining and again on a Duckett layup with 3:05 left. Juniata would close the gap to as few as four points, but an and-one by Alvarez and key free throws by Hansen and freshman guard Kyle McIntosh in the final minute of the game helped to lock up the win.
Case Western Reserve finished the game shooting 40.3% from the field (25-of-62), including a 34.6% mark (nine-of-26) from beyond the arc. The Spartans held a 28-2 edge in points in the paint on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Spartans' defense totaled 11 steals in the game, and held the Eagles to just 21.1% shooting from beyond the arc (four-for-19). Juniata forward Marcus Lee led all scorers with 22 points in the game, shooting seven-for-nine from the field.
Saturday's game was Duckett's fourth 20+ point scoring effort on the season, as the junior is averaging a double-double for the campaign with 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
The Spartans will now carry a hot streak into a 19-day layoff for finals and the holiday season. Case Western Reserve University will return to action on Thursday, December 29th, when the team hosts the Bill Sudeck Holiday Tournament at Horsburgh Gymnasium. The Spartans will open tournament play against Bethany College at 7:00 p.m.