HAZLETON, Pa. - Penn State Hazleton played a Jekyll and Hyde game on Wednesday night, ultimately falling to Penn State Scranton, 77-68, in a Penn State University Athletic Conference men's basketball game in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.
Hazleton (4-13, 3-9 PSUAC), in a must-win situation to keep their playoff hopes alive, played well for several stretches of the game before ultimately succumbing to Scranton's pressure.
Sophomore Jordan Singletary (Houston, Tx.) had his best performance as a Nittany Lion, scoring 30 points and grabbing 18 boards to go along with three blocks and three assists.
While the Lions are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, they face an uphill battle to get there. Hazleton will need to win their final four games and get some help from their conference foes to extend their season.
Singletary opened the game like he finished it, strong on the glass and at the rim. Nine of Hazleton's first 11 points came from the 6'6" sophomore. Over the same seven minute stretch to open the game Singletary would also pull down three rebounds.
Despite trailing for a majority of the first 10 minutes, Hazleton managed to tie the score at 18 apiece on a lay-up by freshman Brian Miller (Barnesville, Pa.). Scranton answered with an 8-2 run, and despite pulling within four at 26-22, the Lions struggled to find the bottom of the net over the final seven minutes of the half. The visitors took advantage of a scoreless stretch of nearly four minutes by Hazleton, building a 37-24 lead in the meantime. Singletary got back on the board with an old-fashioned three point play to make it 37-27, but Hasiin Dixon answered with one of his own just a minute later for a 40-27 lead. The teams would go scoreless over the final 1:32 as Hazleton went into the break down 13.
Hazleton answered the call early in the second half, chipping away at the Scranton advantage. After trading baskets for the first seven minutes, Hazleton had cut the lead to 10 at 49-39. Business picked up for the home team after that, as junior Dwayne Richardson (Richmond, Va.) sparked an 11-0 run to give the Lions their first lead since a minute into the game. Richardson hit a three to start the rally, followed by another three by teammate Royce Brathwaite (Pocono Summit, Pa.). A lay-up and a second three from Richardson finished the run with 10:45 left to play.
Scranton regained the lead after a two minutes scoreless stretch, but Singletary kept pounding the offensive glass, scoring Hazleton's next six points to tie the score twice at 54 and 56. Trailing 58-57, Singletary added another bucket to give Hazleton the lead with 5:35 to play. Freshman Gregory DePaolis (Grafton, NY) cruised to a fast break lay-up after a Scranton turnover for a three-point advantage, but it would be short-lived.
Scranton answered as Dixon scored five straight points to swing the score back in favor of the visitors as they polished off a 12-0 run over 2:30 of game time for a 70-62 lead. Hazleton managed to pull within four at 71-67 on the strength of a three from freshman Nick Nowak (Philadelphia, Pa.) and a lay-up from Singletary. However, it's as close as the Lions would get as Dixon sealed the game with six straight free throws with less than a minute to play.
Dixon led Scranton with 28 points and eight rebounds, while teammates Cullen Fanning and Jeff Griffin poured in 18 and 12 points, respectively.
Singletary was Hazleton's only scorer in double figures as the Lions struggled from three. Hazleton was 24-for-36 inside the arc, but just 5-for-30 outside of it in what was otherwise a very even game in many statistical categories.
Hazleton won the second chance points battle, 23-4, as well as the points off the bench. Hazleton subs added 21 points while Scranton received only three from theirs.
Next Up: Hazleton welcomes Penn State York on Thursday, Feb. 4th in a make-up of their originally scheduled game from Jan. 24th. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.